Creating Tomorrow's Readers

Children’s Book Network (CBN) is a programme centred around changing young mindsets about reading. For young children, reading is seen as a school-related chore nowadays, rather than a fun activity that can broaden their horizons. CBN is working diligently to change that. Based in Stanford but also operating in Clanwilliam, Hermanus, Mitchell's Plain and Khayelitsha, CBN works mainly with children from disadvantaged communities and families where books are hard to come by and are not seen as important for their child's development. Their main tools in making reading fun again are workshops, where they engage with children in numerous activities using their inspiring Toolboxes. Toolboxes are themed chests that house all the reading materials and activities that the children will do for the next ten consecutive workshops. Workshops typically take place on Friday afternoons, Saturdays and school holidays and can accommodate 25 children per workshop.

Click on ‘More Info’ below to find out more about Children’s Book Network.

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Children’s Book Network (CBN) began early in 2012, the dream of founders Gçina Mhlophe, Lesley Beake and Sindiwe Magona. Our purpose is to bring books to children and children to books - to make reading cool. We work through this website - an ever-expanding resource - and through community workshops planned with, by and for the children. Our outreach to other communities includes Toolboxes – sturdy book boxes that contain around fifty books, games, art and craft activities and handbooks to help teachers, librarians and parents to replicate our methods.



Typically taking place on Fridays, Saturdays and school holidays, CBN workshops are a definite page-turner. A lot of effort goes into each workshop to make them a space where each child can feel safe and comfortable enough to participate. Each child is provided transport to and from the workshops to ensure their safety and is given food and drinks to keep them energized and excited for what’s to come.

Each workshop ideally spans two days, a Friday afternoon (after school) and a full day on Saturday, or two consecutive Saturdays. To break the ice the presenters (teachers or librarians) start off with a fun game that the kids can all enjoy. That is followed by a few fun activities that are related to the specific theme of the Toolbox. Then the reading begins and a variety of reading materials are given to the kids such are pictures books, poetry, children’s books and snippets from more complex adult books. After the reading has been done the presenter and kids discuss what happened in the book and how they liked the book.

Activities done at CBN workshops:

  • Listening to beautiful language
  • Writing in all media - handwritten and on electronic tablets
  • Individual journals and stories
  • Making books on electronic tablets that are provided to them
  • Photojournalism
  • Children’s own illustrations, photographs and words
  • Mapping in words and illustration - creating home and landscape on paper
  • Communicating: Comparing and sharing landscapes with children in other environments
  • Shadow puppets
  • Song-writing: Songs to build a nation! – Children’s anthems
  • Singing
  • Drumming and playing on rock gongs
  • Landscape in art


A Toolbox is a specifically designed chest filled with enough reading material and fun activities for ten workshops of 25 kids in an eleven-week term. A single child can attend as many workshops as he/she likes. Toolboxes consist of carefully selected books, games and activities to fit one of the three main themes: Books & Stories, Green, and Time. During a workshop, the children will listen to stories, write their own stories, read on their own, play a reading based board game and enjoy research, crafts and activities all centred around the Toolbox’s theme.

30 sessions will be conducted and an estimated 150 children will be reached by each presenter per term.

CBN Books

CBN Books

The most important part of the programme are the books. Books are carefully chosen by Lesley Beake and Jay Heale, two highly accomplished writers. Based on a book’s complexity and how well they will be received, books are bought and assigned to a Toolbox were it will set off a little spark of inspiration in a young boy or girl’s heart. A variety of styles of reading material are available, from poetry all the way to comic books, there is something for every child. CBN chooses mainly South African books because they are easier for the children to relate to and to inspire them.  

Donate Now

Donate Now

CBN is always in need new books to keep the children excited and engaged. If you want to be part of the reason why a young boy or girl loves reading. Contact CBN directly if you want to make a difference.


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