CBN Joint workshop with Centre for the Book 4 June 2016


Books and Stories were the theme – and CBN launched our toolbox of the same name at a lovely festival of story on a sunny winter Saturday in the beautiful main hall of the Centre for the Book.

There was a sparkle in the air when the CBN team arrived in Cape Town, an air of expectancy and excitement – something that we shared as we carried in our brand new toolboxes of books and reading activities.

Thirty children were waiting for us from the book clubs associated with Centre for the Book, a project managed by Phakama Matoti, Children’s Literature Programme Coordinator. Twelve teacher-librarians and parents were there too, pens in hand! They observed closely, commented freely at lunchtime – and even joined in to conduct a game at the end of an activity. They were all just fantastic!

We began with a proper introduction from the Executive Head of Centre for the Book, Mr Mandlakayise Matyumza, who also stayed for a while to observe. Then we were off …

First up was a short general introduction to CBN and what we do – aimed mostly at the book-club leaders. In the background, images of children from earlier workshops were projected on the wall at the back of the magnificent hall.

When the pictures were finished, Lesley asked the children what they had noticed about the pictures.
‘The children were happy,’ was the first answer.
‘They were enjoying books,’ was the second.

There could be no better answers. Those two responses sum up what we do, what we aim for. We hope to make children happy at our workshops – and help to keep them that way through developing a love of books and reading.

Next, we did something that may even be a world first. Well-known Illustrator Vian Oelofsen was lured into doing some live illustration in front of a critical audience! Using an iPad connected to a data projector, Vian gamely drew the pictures (with input from the children) for a new CBN story – Zeb! Super Book Hero! – while Lesley read the story. (There will be more on this in a separate article). Janine van Rooy (Blaq Pearl) acted as a very critical editor and Chantel Oosthuysen was the publisher. Fortunately, her decision that the book would never make money (while probably true) was over-ruled by the children, who wanted more!

Books and Story session included the charming and ever delighting books by Chris Houghton and a snapshot of the books in the toolbox. There are sixty books filed away in there – books about books and stories, stories to enjoy – and non-fiction to enjoy too, as well as some Book Dash books and the core books that all relate to the theme of the box. (Other themes, including Environment, Time and Landscape are still in the planning stages).

Regular member of the team, Janine van Rooy (Blaq Pearl) worked her fascinating magic with warm-up and introductory games and then produced a song with the children that they were able to sing enthusiastically at the end of the workshop.

We were honoured by a visit from well-known storyteller Philippa Kabali-Kagwa who performed for the group both before and after lunch, telling stories about stories and keeping the children on the edge of their seats.

We broke into three smaller groups for:

A story art activity with the book: My favourite friend. In this, the children were issued with mirrors, cream card and brown koki pens and crayons and invited to draw themselves – with some remarkable results.

The CBN Reading Game is currently being developed by Chantel Oosthuysen (More of that too in another article) and was played on the floor with enjoyment by a small group of enthusiasts.

Blaq Pearl led the third group into some imaginative writing using thought-provoking pictures culled from old copies of National Geographic magazine.

Lunch, when it was time, was well deserved!

After lunch there were more books and stories, more games, another story from Philippa, before we were joined by Didi Didlof with her violin who played most lyrically for the children and told stories through music. We finished off with a musical quiz led by Didi and Blaq Pearl and then a performance of the song written earlier by the children – about Books and Stories.

We hope this will be the start of a lasting cooperation with Centre for the Book and thank them most gratefully for their funding and support.

Heartfelt thanks also to those who worked so hard in the CBN team to make this such a successful workshop.

Children’s Book Clubs (Centre for the Book)
For more information, please visit:
If you are interested in starting a book club at your school, please contact Mrs Phakama Matoti Children’s Literature Programme Coordinator during office hours or at the following

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