It is Madiba’s Birthday in South Africa, a day that we traditionally give back 67 minutes of our time. Traditionally, South African’s spend 67 minutes doing community service or volunteering on Madiba Day and as a family we usually spend the day painting a mural or planting trees.


Over the years we have painted play schools, we have done beach clean ups, we have refreshed an old age home… but this year is different. Everything is different. We aren’t allowed on beaches, connecting with folk is difficult. There are massive food drives, because South Africans desperately need food right now.


I thought I would bring you some recently published South African stories… for two reasons… stories add to any celebration, children need stories they can relate to in their own context and stories are a great way for our followers overseas to get a good a flavour of our culture. So here you go:

South African Stories for Young Readers


How Many Ways Can You Say Hello? The Coloring-in Book

Written by Refiloe Moahloli and illustrated by Anja Stoeckigt

This is the story of a little girl called Sara, who discovers on her first day of school that she doesn’t understand all the children in the playground… they are all speaking different languages. In a country like South Africa, with eleven official languages, it is not unlikely that you will be encounter children with so many different languages.

Her teacher challenges her to learn the many ways to say hello… and Sara spends her holiday in a hot air balloon, travelling around the countryside collecting collecting children that say hello differently as she goes.

I love that cultural differences and diversity are celebrated, and that despite all the differences and diversity, children everywhere have big hearts and embrace their new found friendships. This story is happy and delightful, and sweet representation of childhood in a rainbow nation. The fact that this is a colouring book makes it so much more fun and extra giftable. We love it.

And talking of gifting… my daughter in law saw these Colour Me Crayons, knew I would love them and immediately got them for me. How stunning are they? These are the perfect crayons for this book, well for any kids’ drawings. You no longer have to colour all people in “peach” or “brown”… they are fabulous, locally made, draw beautifully and most importantly smell exactly like crayons should smell.


The South African Alphabet

written and illustrated by Alex Latimer

This is the ultimate South African alphabet… from A to Z it is packed with South Africanisms, from the aardwolf to the Zulu King, with a braai, an eland and a koeksister thrown in.

There is also a naartjie and a songololo. This is a delightful alphabet book, it is simple, it is sweet and I love the illustrations. This is a perfect beginner book for a little person and actually deserves to be quite a magical board book.


Lina the Duiker and the Dragonfly

Written and illustrated by Lisa Steyn

This book I adore, it is a sweet story that includes ancient culture and nature. It is the story of Lina, a young girl of Khoekhoe descent. She wishes she could talk to the animals like her grandpa, Pa’Tuusi, does.

Her Grandpa, who knows the ancient ways has found a genet, that was caught in a poachers trap and it needs some herbal medicine to help it get better. At first Lina isn’t that keen to go exploring in the great forest to find the medicine, but as she adventures further and further into the forest so she becomes happier.

She ends up having to rescue a duiker all on her own, and she gets a little lost, but the trees whisper to her, “Follow the elephants.” And Lina follows, she finds her grandfather and the medicine and the animals are going to be safe, and just fine. I love how this story incorporates little snippets of Khoekhoe culture and their deep connection with the earth and nature. The illustrations are lovely, page after page of full colour pictures… filled with wildlife and things to look at and keep little people interested, while the story unfolds.


The Cheetah Who Ran Too Fast and Other Stories

Written and illustrated by Trudi Franke

This is a collection of stories for young children, about African animals and the antics that they get up too. Each story tackles an issue: forgiving your friends, standing up for your friends, sharing and caring, listening to wise words and so on.

The stories are great, they have a fabulous African feel to them, and the animals have very human personalities and frailties. The baby animals are naughty, some animals are foolish, some are wise and some are delightfully silly. To be honest the kids I read the stories with didn’t need the “What is the story about?” page at the end of each story, and found them a little twee, they wanted to just enjoy the stories. Children are quite capable of interpreting what an adult is trying to teach them through a story, but they don’t want to be told what it is about. However, I think in a classroom context these little “add ins” would make great conversation starters, but for one-on-one and bedtime reading these stories are perfect just as they are, on their own.


Yoga for Giraffes

Written and illustrated by Carly Tod

Sindile is a somewhat mischievous giraffe, with an insatiable curiosity. All his sneaking around has given him an extremely sore neck. And then he discovers a group of tourists, to peak at, while they were at their yoga class… he follow the class along and has a great stretch.

The following morning his neck wasn’t sore anymore. He decided that he felt so good that he would teach his animal friends how to copy his new moves.

Love the feature at the back of the book, of Sindile doing all sorts of stretchy poses for the young reader to try and emulate.

Amazon Affiliate Links

All these books were given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa and Struik Nature. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

2 Replies to “Stories From South Africa to Celebrate Madiba Day…”

  1. Wow… we definitely need some of these in our collection! I love a good book and especially one that is homegrown. We have that crayon set and the kids love it I actually got a batch to give away as addition to birthday gifts .

    It felt weird not doing any charity work on Mandela day. Even K kept saying this doesn’t feel like Mandela day, she is used to doing volunteer work on this day

  2. Hay MrsFF, those crayons are fantastic, and the perfect giftable… It was a very quiet Madiba day and not our usual at all. We did do quite a big pavement cleanup in our street and planted some trees as one does. Not the same, but not nothing either!!!

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