Our Book Dash model has re-imagined the bookmaking process, and the result is that our books are almost unimaginably affordable. We have a similar approach to our organisational management, with excellent systems underlying a pared-down approach to overheads. This is all in service of maximising impact and getting more books into the hands of children who need them.
Our funding partners, whether their funding is destined for operational expenses or for book-printing, comment with delight that they get more bang (or books) for their bucks because of our economical approach to the management of creating new books and printing at scale to reduce unit costs.
Book Dash plans to be around for many years to come, to keep working towards a world where every child owns one hundred books by the age of five. To this end, for all funding that Book Dash is awarded, we keep a percentage for organisational costs. Everything else is allocated to the creation, translation or printing of more beautiful books for children. Our innovative approaches mean that we produce excellent quality for very little money, punching far above our weight.
Case Study: Book Dash and amaZizi Reads
Deep in the Northern Drakensberg mountains of KZN, the Khanyisela project focuses on education and on supporting literacy and communication from infancy to 9 years. Our amaZizi Reads intervention is one major part of this and is rooted in our belief that children‘s success in literacy is very important for their future development.
In underserved rural communities children have almost no books at home and yet one of our aims was to promote a culture of reading. This lack of resources was a major challenge until February 2019 when we were fortunate to partner with Book Dash. At the heart of the Book Dash vision is the idea that book ownership is a powerful intervention in itself, but initially we questioned giving books away. However an open mind, expert opinion and first-hand experience soon convinced us of the enormous value of giving books ‘for-keeps’. To date we have distributed more than 3000 books into our community through the pre-schools we support, our BabyBoost sessions, our community reading afternoons and by running competitions where participants send us pictures of “reading-in-action”.
What we have been delighted to witness is the immense joy of receiving the gift of a story. Children have taken these little books home and at times returned to community reading afternoons, ready to read along with the visiting teachers. Books are prized possessions. Valued and loved. Their very own.
So together with Book Dash we are helping grow language and literacy in this remote area and we are developing a love for stories. The benefits are enormous. Reading and sharing stories helps build strong bonds, which allows for open conversations. Reading together stimulates thinking and language and creates opportunities to discuss feelings and outcomes. Having a story at home, in these dark Covid times has been a safe escape for our little people.
The idea that each child should own 100 stories inspires us to maintain our momentum to ensure we continue to grow literacy and language – we hope that all the children in the amaZizi valley we impact will Learn2Read so that they can Read2Learn.
Case Study: Book Dash, Santa Shoebox and MySchool
In 2018, as part of their 21st birthday celebration, MySchool sponsored 21,000 Book Dash books to be added into Santa Shoeboxes going to children aged 7 and younger. The impact was so significant that MySchool decided to widen the scope of this collaboration in 2019 by sponsoring 50,000 Book Dash books for Santa Shoeboxes. It is an inspiring example of collaboration, where the contribution of each party enhances the others’ work, with the children ultimately benefiting most of all.
In November 2019 the Book Dash team visited a few ECD centres in Khayelitsha with Santa Shoebox and MySchool where boxes were handed out to the children. Their eyes sparkled as they opened their beautifully decorated Santa Shoeboxes, each one packed individually for a specific child.
For these children the idea of receiving a box full of goodies ‘just for you’ is a novel concept. The inclusion of a book in the Santa Shoeboxes adds a dimension that is crucially important in the lives of children who live in poverty. The books donated by MySchool are possibly the first books many of these children would own, hopefully helping to ignite a lifelong love of reading and learning.
The children loved the beautiful books in their boxes!
Case Study: Thanda ECD
Thanda is a community-based organisation in Mtwalume, KwaZulu-Natal. In October 2018 they received Book Dash books, sponsored by the Solon Foundation. This is their feedback:
“You have made it possible for children in our community to have something they never had before – books of their very own! Thanks to your generosity, all the children in our ECD Programme were able to take home two wordless story books, I can dress myself and Springloaded to read and enjoy in their own time.
“In October, our ECD Facilitators read both books with their classes and talked about the stories, giving every child an opportunity to give their interpretation of what happens in the stories.
“Before children took their books home, our ECD Facilitators held a meeting with guardians where they read both books together to encourage guardians to read them with their children, and to familiarize them with reading wordless books with children.”
Case Study: Bethesda Hospital
For young children to thrive, they need food, love, security, stimulation and learning. Books can be a crucial tool in this model of nurturing care.
In 2019 Book Dash donated 400 isiZulu books to the Bethesda Hospital in the Umkhanyakude District of northern KwaZulu-Natal. The hospital has many programmes that are baby-friendly, but not many resources to support these programmes. The Book Dash books were used by the Paediatrics Unit, the Dietetics Department and the Occupational Therapy Department.
The report-back from the hospital staff on using the donated books was very positive. Children who visited the hospital loved receiving their very own book, and practitioners saw increased parental engagement.
“Linking health to education resources is new for Bethesda but our OT team specially found amazing teaching opportunities with babies, toddlers and young children, both in the ward and during clinic visits. They used the books to teach and engage: body awareness, visual perceptual skills, language development. The books are ideal to link the hospital-based interventions to home learning and take-home tasks.”
“We love Book Dash books! They are an amazing tool to use in a variety of ways to help focus our educational interventions more clearly to meet our desired outcomes. We use the books in a variety of ways from knowing colour and shapes to spelling and maths, while also developing comprehension, reading skills and a love of reading.”Tshepong Children’s Project
“Having books of their own at home makes children proud and encourages them to read more. The Book Dash books provided wonderful stories that children can read and understand in their own time, which helps make reading more accessible. We love this project and how happy it makes children to own their own books.”Thanda Afterschool Project,
“Visits to partners who received the Book Dash books last year are showing real evidence of progress as they deepen their literacy work and, of course, youngsters’ ownership of books.”Cecily Salmon,
The Solon Foundation
“The OT department used the books to teach and engage. The books didn’t add work to their day, but energized and encouraged the patients to participate in the session. Children who visited the hospital love the opportunity to receive their very own book!”Bethesda Hospital
“The teams were a diverse bunch of talented individuals and we were all impressed by the tight ship you run! It was a really excellent partnership and I was delighted to see the vision in action, and the best part? Nine new books in the world, available for free.”Zephne Ladbrook,
The Otto Foundation Trust