Since our inception in 2014, Book Dash has published 140 original African storybooks for children, and translated them into a library of close to 500 titles. How much did we pay over the years in writer’s fees, illustration fees, design fees and editing fees? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. This astonishing fact is due to the generosity of the creative volunteers whose passion and skills are the powerful force that enables Book Dash to publish free books, and in doing so break down the barriers to literacy.
Our vision is that every child should own a hundred books by the age of five, so in addition to making the books freely available online, the printing and distribution of physical copies is crucial to our work. Because we don’t have to pay the creative volunteers for their work, we are able to publish our books at roughly 20% of traditional publishing costs. These savings mean that we can print and distribute an abundance of books, so that all children, regardless of their socio-economic position, can benefit from owning books. This year alone, we’ve been able to distribute 340,000 books to children, despite restrictions due to COVID-19.
So what motivates our superstar volunteers to give up 12 hours on a Saturday (some repeat offenders have given up three, four… six Saturdays over the years) to work very hard and make a free book in a team with other creatives? This is what a few of them have to say:
Ndumiso Nyoni (illustrator, three Book Dash events)
“I volunteer for Book Dash because I grew up on books, comics and cartoons but could never fully connect with the characters I loved, because they didn’t look or sound like me… Not only does Book Dash give me the opportunity to create books that will resonate with young African children, they also create and distribute the books for free to help improve child literacy throughout our continent. Knowing that there is an African child out there who is both learning to read and appreciate themselves for who they are, is the biggest achievement of my career and I am humbled and honoured to be a part of it.”
Sam Wilson (writer, seven Book Dash events)
“Literacy is a huge issue in South Africa. Book Dash creates books that are free online, and can be printed and sold by anyone. It’s an amazing way to give every child in South Africa their own books. And I get to do something I love for a great cause.”
Have a look at this short video to hear what motivates two Book Dash writers, Mathapelo Mabaso (two Book Dash events) and Sindiwe Magona (two Book Dash events), to get involved.
So, salute our creative volunteers for their generosity by reading their Book Dash books with the children in your life (free on our website), and tell others about the books too. You can also follow your favourite Book Dash volunteers on their social media pages to see more of the amazing creative work that they do in their day jobs.
To get notified of when the next Book Dash event and call for applications is, join our mailing list here: