For years I have been reading Afrikaans stories to my children as part of our school day. Every year we do a little bit more and even though the official second language in our high school is French, I do want my children to be able to understand the Afrikaans that happens around them. They don’t have to be fluent and they don’t have to be able to write books in Afrikaans, but I do expect them to be able to have at least a good understanding when they read it, or they are read to and I would like them to understand conversations with their friends.
This year, for the first time ever, we really upped our game and chapter books were added to the mix, actually now that we have discovered LAPA Uitgewers, and their prolific list of books for children, a lot more books have landed on our book pile, not because they are Afrikaans… but because my children wanted to read them, the fact that they were Afrikaans was simply an added learning bonus.
Se7en Afrikaans Books We Read for School this Year
Magriet en Billie
This is a short, easy reader in a series about a pet chicken called Margriet and her owner, Nina. In this story Billie goes to visit Nina and Margriet after school. Billie is fascinated that a friend could have a pet chicken and he is excited, but a little nervous to meet Margriet. He is worried that the chicken might chase him or peck at him, and Nina reassures him that Margriet is friendly…
Turns out that Billie had a worm in his pocket as a gift… but Margriet was not prepared to wait!!! It is a little bit of fun and your beginner reader would really enjoy this story.
Magriet se Eierbesigheid
Another little adventure with with the chicken, Magriet, and her owner, Nina. In this story Nina’s granny and grandpa are coming to visit. Nina’s Ouma and Oupa get to taste Magriet’s eggs and they think they are the very best eggs they have ever tasted. They wish everyone could taste these lovely eggs… and they encourage Nina to start an egg business.
The winning feature of this little book is the omelette recipe on the last page. There is nothing like cooking in another language to enjoy speaking it more.
Wat Werner Doen Met Sy Drie Miljoen
We have read this book throughout the year, just a page or two every single day. Werner and his best friends, have become part of our homeschool family. I realised at the start of the year that this book would be a challenge for us to get through, but slowly but surely we have made it through. Each chapter is broken down into little sections and we just read a little section each day. As I read the Afrikaans sentence, I translate a little bit as I go along and believe it or not, my kids started to get it. We have definitely raised our game from picture book readers to chapter books, with the help of Werner.
Werner is a boy at school in Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha)… he is just a regular boy in a regular school. His best friends are TC, the class genius, and Einstein… whose name is a little ironic, he is the class rugby player and far more interested in his lunch from the tuck-shop than anything academic. Werner’s dad has passed away and his mother is struggling financially, so TC comes up with a plan to win the lottery. And then, SPOILER ALERT, with the unintentional help of his grandfather, who suffers from dementia, they do win… but that creates an even bigger problem for the three boys. With all their very noble intentions they forgot that Werner’s mother would never accept such a gift… and they have to find ways for them to gift their winnings to her, without her realising. The book is a sweet look at life, Werner’s love for his ailing grandpa, his relationships with his classmates, how he feels when his mother loses her job, the clever way they find to pay his school fees. The highs and lows of everyday life, and the struggles the boys face with their big secret… it is a lovely story and we have really enjoyed our daily dose of it.
Loop LAG-LAG deur die Wetenskapklas
This is a really fun way to learn Afrikaans, it is a science experiment book in comic form… so not a lot of words to understand and the illustrations explain everything in a step by step manner.
The front of the book has a dedicated list of everything you will need for each experiment. Simple things that you will have around the house: a bottle, a match, sand, a coin, a button and so on…
There are three little friends that go through the book performing the experiments, the entire book is essentially visual… The science is delightfully explained and my middle grade English language speakers were quite able to figure it all out. This book is FUN, FUN, FUN… and a wonderful way to learn Afrikaans and a great book for the child that has to do a “show and tell” oral for school.
This is the perfect book for curious kids, who like to do things “on their own” obviously an adult can stand by, when necessary, but most of the experiments you can leave the materials out and leave them to explore.
‘n Klein Bietjie Magic
This is a lovely, sweet story for teen readers, it is the story of sixteen year old Janke and her much younger brother Werner, who go on summer holiday to Port Nolloth. Every year they go on summer holiday to Gansbaai, its trendy, its fun and they love it. They are really not happy to be going on holiday to this little town in the middle of nowhere. On the first day, as they drive into town, Janke notices a cool looking guy, but nothing is going to sway her, she is determined to have a terrible time and hope the holiday passes quickly.
Turns out, the wonderful looking guy is her neighbor, Stefan, and he is quite determined to show her that Port Nolloth is not the worst place on earth to go on holiday… he takes her on adventures, looking for sand frogs in the night, to watch the sunrise, to the beach and of course star gazing… there is a sweet romance, (but nothing untoward), and family relationships are never as easy as they seem on the surface. Stefan lost his mother in a high jacking, and Janke’s mom is battling with perfectionism… but together they get through and it turns out that Port Nolloth is not the worst place to spend your summer holidays afterall. I liked the charcters in this story, they were just great… its a fabulous read.
Tussen die Lyne
This is the perfect book for aspiring writers and even reluctant writers will enjoy filling in this book as they go along. Jaco Jacobs is one of our all time favourite South African authors for children… look for his books everywhere(!), and he has created this workbook for children to fill in as they go and it is packed with his own writing secrets.
Tussen die Lyne, or Between the Lines, is a playful workbook to help children create their own stories. Honestly, I wish we had had books like this when I was a kid… I would have loved to fill a book like this in. He begins the book by introducing himself and then jumps straight into story soup. How to create characters, full of details, and loads of questions to get the brain working: What is character thinking, saying, doing. Everything from metaphors to onomatopoeia, which in Afrikaans is a klanknabootsing!
There is a snippet of almost everything to fire up your young writer… how to make a great title, how to go through your story looking for mistakes… and then there are loads of ideas for writing projects: A newspaper article, a radio interview with Red Riding Hood, a party invitation to a jelly fish party… the ideas in this book are brilliant and even the most reluctant writer will be inspired to think and imagine and create. If you have a child who is struggling for ideas for writing, especially ideas for Afrikaans writing… this book is a an absolute gem.
Afrikaans Chop Chop: An English Student’s All-Comprehensive Guide to Afrikaans.
This is a reference book for everything that your middle grade to high schooler needs to know. The layout is easy to follow, the contents page is a quick reference page, so you can easily jump to whatever topic you need. And all the sections are colour coded for quick access.
There are loads of examples throughout the book so that you can practice the lessons learned in the quick facts sections. How to answer a begripstoets (comprehension test) for example, what happens if you don’t understand the question? And lots and lots of typical exam questions so that you know what to expect when exam time rolls around. There is everything from grammar to orals, vocabulary to writing… this is a really useful book to have as a reference and we dipped into it from time to time during our school year.
In the grammar/taal section there are lists and lists of things that I had totally forgotten from school: adjectives and adverbs, conjunctions and synonyms… and each new idea comes with loads examples. The literature covers all the figures of speech, poetry and short stories. There is a section on orals… which a lot of students really struggle with, details on how to prepare your talk, how to present a book report for example, and so many more. In the writing section they have examples of every possible type of writing from letters to adverts, even CV’s.
This is a practical hands on guide to Afrikaans for English speaking students and their teachers. One of my kids is very keen to add more Afrikaans into her schooling, so we are going to slowly but surely work our way through this book together.
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