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Toolboxes Forever!

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It has been a very longstanding dream to pass on our ideas to other people and organizations working with children and reading.

Six years, to be precise. That’s how long it took to assemble the books, the ideas, the methods, the inspiration and – hardest of all – the funding to make this dream come true.

Now it is done. 23 toolboxes have been assembled and 20 of them handed out and already working hard! The other three are also earmarked for their new homes and will be leaving us shortly. Here are some answers to questions we are asked about this innovative project.

What is a toolbox exactly?
It is a sturdy book-carrier called a Cadi that is intended for children to transport their schoolbooks. (Instructions include the suggestion that it is not a good idea to transport your friends on your Cadi as well!) Inside it are about 60 books (this varies with what is available from publishers when we assemble the box), book-bags with core books to spark ideas, suggestions about activities that will enhance the books and a handbook that explains our methods. Included is a CBN Reading Game that makes reading part of the game - and the fun.

Who needs a toolbox?
Anyone who is what we describe as a ‘book activist’. In other words, somebody who works with children to help them enjoy (and hopefully learn to love) reading and books. They are used by people (teachers, librarians, social workers and those who just plain care about reading and children). They are used after school and at weekends and in holidays.

Which children can benefit from the boxes?
We work with children who can read, but often don’t read. This means the often-neglected age-group in upper primary school (10, 11 &12 years old). It is a sad fact that, after the initial excitement of A, B, C, and some phonics and other technicalities, many children, especially those in under resourced areas, are not exposed to books that are interesting and exciting. They don’t see the point. They don’t like reading. They are not interested in books – and they are missing out on an experience that can change their lives.

What do they cost?
The first tranche of boxes cost R6 500 each. Costs are going up, but we try to make compromises to keep them as economical as possible. Still, 60 books are bound to cost some money!

These boxes were made possible by?
• Funding from friends of CBN over the last six years
• Rotary Newlands
• Rotary Cape of Good Hope
• The Crank-handle Club
• Rotary Clubs of Skelleftea in northern Sweden
• Rottweil Fellows (Rotary in Rottweil, Germany) with
Springfontein Wine Estate
• National Lottery Commission
• ZA-FM Public Interest Fund

And a huge amount of work by volunteers in the background, who contributed skills and knowledge to the workshops that informed all the material in the boxes. Children’s Book Network thanks them all.

We have now started work on the other two toolboxes that will make up the series, designed to cover three terms of the school year (excluding the exam term). The new topics will be: The Environment and Time and Landscape. A start on these new toolboxes is made possible by sponsorship from:

Friends of Children's Book Network
Jenny Hobbs
The Kalahari Peoples' Network

Image: Photograph courtesy of Blaq Pearl Foundation in Mitchell’s Plain. The final four in the eight toolboxes we have distributed there.