A dash towards literacy

Dash mainBook Dash brings together volunteer creative professionals to create new, African storybooks for people to freely translate and distribute to budding young minds. (Image: Book Dash, via Facebook)

A good book can broaden minds. For young children the benefits are even greater. Reading feeds their imagination and so improves their ability to learn, helping them grasp language faster.

The problem is that suitable reading material of a high quality isn’t always easily available for some children. The Book Dash movement is trying to remedy this lack in children’s lives.

Book Dash brings together volunteer professional writers and designers to develop open-licence books for young South Africans. Open licence means these books are free, and easily accessible.

“Book Dash is a project to put more books in the world,” explains Arthur Attwell, founder of the organisation. “If we want to make them properly accessible we need to be able to print them cheaply and share them widely and translate them easily, and so we’ve got a whole lot of volunteers making books.”

Book Dash: creating open-licensed children’s books

The writers and designers come together for a day to create interesting and relevant stories for young people. These are then be printed with the help of donors and sponsors who see the value in getting more of the country’s youth reading.

Attwell says the organisation’s ambitious vision is to ensure that every child in South Africa owns at least 100 books by the age of five. “If we’re going to do that we have to make a lot of books that we can very easily print and give away.

“If we can get more children reading from a young age we’ll grow bigger publishing industries, we’ll have smarter leaders, more entrepreneurial business people, and in general we’ll be a better society for it.”

Book Dash: Getting books to kids


If you want to help Book Dash get their books printed and delivered into the hands of youth hungry for an engaging story you can visit the organisation’s website for more information.

You can also get involved with Book Dash by becoming a volunteer working with facilitators to help create magical stories.

To join them on a Book Dash Day, email the organisation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Nikola Rijsdijk, one of the writers involved in the early stages of the process says she really believes in Attwell’s vision of creating a large number of books that children can easily access.

“I love the idea of flooding this country with children’s books to start creating a reading culture.”


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