Nobody must ever be in any doubt about why we work with Children’s Book Network. It is because of the children.
And who are the children? She is a girl who is ten. She still loves pink and a bit of glitter. She watches what her older sister does and would like to do that too. She has many questions and very few answers. What will she be? She would like to be a social worker who helps people. She would like to have a small cat of her own. She would like to go places in her imagination.
He is a boy who is eleven. It is not easy being a boy who is eleven. The other boys are better at soccer. They are bigger and stronger. They have more power and that power is in the words they can use. He holds his head up, but watchfully. He wonders if he might practice something so much – cricket, maybe, he likes cricket – that he will play in the national team and go to other countries and meet new people in different places.
She is a girl who is twelve. That is maybe most difficult of all, to be a girl who is not a woman, but who looks a lot like one. In her mind she is a singer. She knows she can sing. Everybody tells her that. She has seen people on television, winning talent competitions … maybe she can do that? But she is also a realist. She knows that won’t happen. Instead, she will be … a businesswoman. She will have her own ideas, and people will like them and buy them. She will make beautiful things in her workshop and people will love them and take them to put in their homes. Her name will be remembered.
Together, they are South Africa’s children. Whatever they do will be important. For them, for the families they may one day have, for the nation. It is an obligation of the highest order to offer these young people a chance to dream, to imagine, to experience. To read.
It is as simple as that. We just have to do it.
(Image from pre-pandemic workshop)