From teaching, to writing for children, to writing for children at school was a fairly logical process. I have been involved with several educational reading and English schemes, including the Sunny Day series (Maskew Miller Longman) and graded readers for Macmillan (Hong Kong) contributions to English textbooks for various publishers and readers for the UNICEF girl-child education project Sara. I was series editor for the Stars of Africa series of supplementary readers (Maskew Miler Longman), which comprised over 170 graded readers. I worked with Cambridge University Press on their Rainbow Readers, writing fifteen of the books at various levels. I am currently working on a reading project with Oxford University Press.
Parliamentary Millennium Project
In 2006 I was invited to be part of the Parliamentary Millennium Project ‘Every Voice Counts’ with the national newspaper Sunday Times. This involved visiting schools in all nine provinces of South Africa and working with Grade Sevens (12-year olds) to produce 27 short books that reflect the voices, minds and hearts of South African children. Working with an illustrator, we collated the ideas and images into stories that are inserted into the Sunday Times educational supplement. A total of 10.5 million books were distributed through the newspaper circulation, and also through special projects delivering reading material to schools that have few, or no books.
Village School Project
I was one of the founders of the Village Schools Project in Nyae Nyae, Namibia, a pioneer mother-tongue education project requested prior to Namibian Independence by the Ju/'hoan San community there. I contributed to the training and empowerment of young Ju/'hoan teachers, especially through materials-development workshops and promotion of enrichment reading.
Four books came from this experience, all researched with Anthropologist Dr Megan Biesele:
- Song of Be - award-winning novel for young adult
- Waiting for Rain (with Megan Biesele) - non-fiction combined with a story of life in a Kalahari village
- Bau and the Baobab - a counting book for young children
- Rough Luck - an adventure story for teenagers
Other Educational Writing
- Working on the Women's Health Handbook for Wits University
- Working on a handbook on careers for the Education Information Centre
- Working on various English textbook projects
Zebra Books : 1995 - 1996
With business partner Ann Walton, a well-known South African illustrator and Art Director, produced a total of 48 supplementary readers for Kagiso Publishers (later acquired by Maskew Miller Longman) in a series called Zebra Books. The titles covered pre-reading to Grade seven (12 year olds).
Sunbird Books (PPS Publishing): 1997 - 1998
Again in partnership with Ann Walton, produced eight further supplementary readers for use in Ghana. All books aimed at readers in Grade 6 - 7 (ages 11 and 12).
Stars of Africa (Maskew Miller Longman): 1999 - 2003
This large publishing project (to exceed 150 books when complete) was begun in 1999 with intense pre-planning to include knowledge from and about Africa. I acted as series editor throughout, working closely with authors and the publishers to produce a definitive series of supplementary readers from pre-school to senior primary level that addressed issues of importance to children in Africa.
Cambridge University Press Rainbow Readers 2009-2010
Working as a box editor on a four boxes of ten readers each, fiction and non-fiction).
2012 - 2017
Reading Toolboxes and Toolkits
During the five years that Children’s Book Network has been operating, I have been developing materials for workshops and ultimately for our toolbox project, which will share our experiences with teacher librarians working in upper primary school to encourage reading. For more information, please visit www.childrensbook.co.za/workshops/toolboxes.