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WATCH | How 12-hour book-writing marathons are combating illiteracy in South Africa

Books are an essential part of childhood development. Furthering education relies on a child’s ability to read and write.

Yet in South Africa, there is a dearth of resources.

Teaching kids to read is an increasingly difficult task in poor communities as children’s books are costly and inaccessible in all of the country’s 11 official languages.

It is because of this that Julia Norrish began working as the executive director at Book Dash.

With the organisation, she ensures that children have access to reading material that they can connect with. Norrish and her team accomplish this through their quintessential event – a 12-hour book-writing marathon.

“We are what we read, and it’s really important that children get exposed to diverse books,” Norrish says.

At a Book Dash gathering, creatives from different backgrounds and cultures come together to create short story books in one day, from the writing to the illustrations.

By making open-licenced works, the books are inexpensive to produce.

Brought to you by Beautiful News

In partnership with other organisations, the initiative distributes publications across the country, which can also be downloaded freely from their website.

“It’s our vision that every child should own 100 books by the age of five,” Norrish says.

Literacy is integral for countries to overcome poverty. With Book Dash, Norrish is empowering South African children to discover a passion for reading, something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

“It’s our hope that by making books more accessible in cost, content and language, more children and their parents will fall in love with reading,” Norrish says.

Footage by Book Dash was used in the creation of this film.