One of our more difficult tasks is to find stories and texts that are completely suitable for the children we work with. This does NOT mean that everything they read has to come from their own culture. Far from it. We seek out challenging and thought-provoking material from all over the world as well as from South Africa.
The problem lies with permissions – the legal process of asking publishers and authors for the right to quote from their work. (A few sentences are allowed, providing proper acknowledgement is given. But to quote, or work with larger chunks of text, there is usually a payment involved – and an endless paper trail of correspondence.)
We agree with that. The author ought to be properly compensated for their work. But it limits our choices when we read or present reading to our groups of children.
Fortunately, we have a children’s book author (Lesley Beake) on the team. Thirty-Five years of experience (along the lines of: ‘Hello. Do you think you could send us twenty stories by Tuesday?’) have meant that we have in-house writing to order. The toolbox texts are mostly done this way, with the allowed amount of direct quotes, from books, with proper acknowledgements.
This, and the read-aloud sound-bytes we are compiling, will hopefully get us around the problem. In addition, it will help with the difficulties of books going out of print – however excellent they are. Often, we want to order multiple copies … but there aren’t any.
Each toolbox will have a longer story to add continuity to the smaller, more regular, workshops we are moving towards in the pandemic. For the Red Toolbox (Books and Stories) it is a specially created story called: ‘Zeb, Super-Book-Hero’. For a sneak preview, please go to: