CBN in the pandemic – what we are doing


We began, nearly ten years ago, as a workshop-focused NPO (Not-For Profit-Organization). During hundreds of workshops in rural and township venues, we learned a lot about how to engage – and keep – an interest in books with children between 10 and 13 years of age. Reading at this stage is particularly important, but not much work is being done in SA to assist the process. Without help, we will lose these new readers, who lack the thought-processes and imaginative ability to make sense of the written word.

Because of the pandemic, we have – of necessity – had to shift our focus away from workshops, where children used to read, listen, learn and play as a group. That is now no longer possible under lockdown regulations. Instead we have been working on three replacements for workshops:

These have been under development for years now but are now being updated to cope with the new realities of life in a pandemic.
Think of them as reading toolkits, sturdy boxes on wheels that contain a multitude of stories, books ideas and activities. There are four of them

RED Toolbox (9-10 years-old)
The theme is ‘Books and Stories’ with many specially written pieces, pointers to old favourites, activities and games – and thinking about stories.

GREEN Toolbox (10-11 years-old)
The same kind of material, but with a slant towards all aspects of our environment – from the planet to the tadpole.

BLUE TOOLBOX (11-13 years-old)
For the oldest of the children we work with, more challenging and thoughtful input on Time and Landscape and all they mean to us in the background of our lives.

Contains all the material we developed in 2020 lockdown in The Happiness Project.

The roll-out of the re-designed toolboxes will begin in September.
Much of the material from the toolboxes, and all the material from our 2020 Lockdown Learning project and Happiness Project, are available for free download on our website at:

Twenty (20) Red Toolboxes have already been distributed and are being used in Mitchell’s Plain (W Cape) and at two venues in E Cape as well as in Khayelitsha and various venues in the Overberg (W Cape).

There are currently three mini-libraries circulating in De Kop informal settlement and Stanford South. With community involvement, we hope to increase this number and reach more children.

This new project has many volunteers reading texts into their cellphones to give children an opportunity to hear stories read well.

Currently (Mid July 2021) we may not give even small workshops, but we hope to revive this when regulations ease. There are three venues for mini-workshops that will reach a total of around 30 children every week. Vuyo Siza continues to work with CBN children in De Kop under strict Covid compliance and five workshops were given at Stanford Library by Wilien van Zyl in June and early July.

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