For curious young minds

ANY mom, dad, older sibling or guardian using the picture book Antjie to help nurture the curious minds of a small child most undoubtedly has a winner.

ANY mom, dad, older sibling or guardian using the picture book Antjie to help nurture the curious minds of a small child most undoubtedly has a winner.

This is because Antjie, which was voted the best early childhood publication of 2009 together with Busy Baby, are colourful illustrations of the beautiful work done by unsung champions of the sector. These people are fortunately now recognised, acknowledged and rewarded by a formidable sustainable development partnership that is campaigning to establish a viable ECD culture.

Formerly known as the Absa and Sowetan ECD Awards, it is now the SA ECD Awards. The partnership comprises Absa, Sowetan, Unicef, the Basic Education department, SABC education, Social Development Department, Jim Joel Fund, South African Congress for Early Childhood Development and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation.

Antjie and Busy Baby were adjudged the best ECD publications last year.

Antjie, a part of the Keteka Series and a publication of the Anti-Bias project of the Early Resource Unit in Cape Town, caters for children from about age two to eight. Carole Bloch and Bev de Meyer's Busy Baby, published by Songololo, best serve active toddlers, who want to feel and touch the characters.

Here is the best description of the value of such books: "Picture books are the gateway to a life- long love of reading and, hopefully, even an appreciation of art," said Tanya, a devoted mom and avid reader, lover and reviewer of books, especially those that nurture future readers. View her tips and insights on books4yourkids.

What's most appealing and impressive about Antjie is its huge potential to create multi-lingualism and a healthy appreciation of other cultures. It is written in isiXhosa, English, Setswana and Afrikaans.

It tells the story of lead character Antjie and her eventful ride on her donkey cart, her separation from the donkeys, her search for them and her jubilant reunion with her beloved animals.

It introduces young readers to other characters, illustrated through tasteful photographs.

The other winners from the 2009 SA ECD Awards are home-based ECD site leaders Mary Mabate of Kgantsho Day Care Centre in North West, Suzan Matlou of Ikageng Crèche in Limpopo and Martha Senamathele of Iketsetseng Crèche in Free State;

Community-based ECD Sites leaders Hlengiwe Mthimkhulu of Zisize KwaQatha in KwaZulu-Natal, Gladys Siweya of Nhletelo in Limpopo and Ruth Lekgetho of Happy day Centre in North West;

Innovation in ECD achievers Phuti Rakgophala of the Pula Madibogo Orphan and Vulnerable Resources Centre in Limpopo, Barabara Kenyon of Ntataise Lowveld Trust in Mpumalanga and Claudine Storbeck of Hi-Hopes Centre in Gauteng;

ECD practitioners Georgina Bachelor of the Barchville Pre-Primary School in Western Cape, Ayanda Xaba of Macongo Creche in KwaZulu-Natal and Beauty Masinga of Jack and Jill ECD Centre in Mpumalanga;

And ECD resource and training organisations leaders Melody Marescia of the College of Cape Town in Western Cape, Shirley Orsmond of The ECD Project in Gauteng and Peter Sekgobela of Woz'obona ECD Services Group in Limpopo.

Nominations and entries are being invited for the 2010 provincial and national awards finalists in the:

l Best ECD practitioner of the year;

l Best ECD site of the year;

l Best ECD training and support organisation of the year;

l Most Innovative ECD programme of the year and

l Best ECD publication of the year.

Get your nomination forms from the South African Congress for Early Childhood Development's national office at 17 Lewis Street, Riverdale, Pretoria.

You can also phone 086-222-2592 or visit

The closing date is June 30. Provincial eliminations take place between August and September.

The national winners will be announced in November.