We all have little ones in our lives and we know their innate curiosity. So why not feed their curiosity with stories that will take them to other worlds this festive season that they can also relate to? We’ve hand-picked our favourite South African children’s picture books that we think your little ones need to read. The beautiful, representative books with gorgeous illustrations are perfect for bedtime reading and for more advanced young readers to read themselves.
Statistics globally state that reading to children at a young age impacts the child positively. Children who are read to at home are able to count higher, can write their own names and generally score better at maths. We love the selected books even more because of the messages they carry from fostering a positive self-image, self-love, loving one’s hair to little girls just doing the most.
See below the six South African children’s picture books that NEED to be on your little’s present list if they are not already. So get one, two or all for your little ones, nephews, nieces or even your neighbours.
How Many Ways Can You Say Hello (multilingual)
Written by Refiloe Moahlodi Illustrated by Anja Stoeckigt 34 Pages | Hardcover Publisher: Penguin Randomhouse South Africa
Sara’s first day of school is full of surprises, but the biggest one of all is that she discovers she doesn’t understand what the other children are saying and she wonders how she will make friends. Her teacher encourages her to find out the many ways one can say hello.
Writers: Bianca and Khanya Masina Publisher: Khanya Africa 30 Pages | Paperback
I Love Me! shows Khanya expressing what she loves about herself, exploring every part of her body that she appreciates and what it can do. This book teaches young girls self-love and is a first in the Khanya Africa Literacy series.
Mizz President is a delightful story about a young girl who finds herself thrust into the unexpected position of being president of her country. But our fearless shero knows exactly what to do and decides to right some mistakes.
Writer: Lebohang Masango Illustrator: Masego Morulane Publisher: New Africa Books 28 Pages | Paperback
Mpumi’s Magic Beads is a delightful story about friendship, self-esteem, discovery and beautiful hair in the big city of Joburg. It follows the sudden adventures of Mpumi, Asante and Tshiamo as they see the world around them from new heights and realise all of the fun waiting to be discovered outside of their classroom.
“Refilwe, Refilwe, let down your locks, So I can climb the scraggy rocks!” In a cave high up on a craggy cliff, beautiful Refilwe is allowed to see no one but the witch who locked her away. One day, Prince Tumi hears Refilwe singing as he is riding his horse near her cave and he searches for the owner of the magical voice. Will Refilwe ever be free from the evil witch? Will she ever find true love? An African retelling of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel.
Writers: Riana Louw and Charles Siboto Illustrator: Christelle Lambrechts Publisher: Human & Rosseau (NB Publishers) 48 Pages | Paperback
Ndiliswa dreams of becoming a warrior and the commander of the king’s army. But she is the daughter of a poor blacksmith, who makes spears just to get by. Prince Siyabulela has never been a soldier like his younger brother and his father fears that he won’t be a good king. When Siyabulela is transformed into a dragonfly by a wicked spell, it is up to Ndiliswa to defeat their enemies to save the prince.
What books are your little ones reading that you would add to the list?
Check out Book Dash who gathers creative volunteers to create new African storybooks that anyone can freely print, translate and distribute. They believe every child should own a hundred books by the age of five.
There is a great selection of African books on their website and app that you can read or download for free!