Introducing South Africa

Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.

— Nelson Mandela

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South Africa is a country dear to our hearts. My husband and I lived in Cape Town for the first three years of our marriage and so I have always been keen to introduce something of the place and people to our children. (A visit one day hopefully.)

The time came at the beginning of lockdown (no particular reason why then).  I spent some time reading stories to the children set in South Africa.  This was a chance to share not only some of the country’s painful history and ongoing challenges but traditional folktales as well.  Of course I didn’t know the Black Lives Matter protests were about to erupt.

I imagine most South African children are familiar with their own history and the sorts of stories we have read, but for those of us with children across other parts of the world, getting to know this slither of African history may widen our appreciation and love for people from this corner of the world.

I have attached a mixture of picture books and longer stories below to read with our children whether at home or in the classroom, and I hope they might stimulate conversation and broaden the minds of our little ones.

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Further Recommended Posts:

Autumn Books and Inspiration

Children’s Book Recommendations

Visiting Paris

Visiting Rome

Visiting Barcelona

Oxford Stories

Books 0-5 years

Read Alouds for 5 year olds

“…the voice that tells us a story aloud is always more than a carrier wave bringing us the meaning; it’s a companion through the events of the story, ensuring that the feelings it stirs in us are held within the circle of attachment connecting the adult reading, and the child listening. To hear a story is a social act.” — Francis Spufford, The Child that Books Built

I love Francis Spufford’s reminder that “to hear a story is a social act.” Continue reading

Children’s Fiction 8+

The children should have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, in other times—a delightful double existence; and this joy they will find, for the most part, in their story-books”

— Charlotte Mason (Vol. 1, p. 153)

So it looks like holidays are off the cards this summer for most of us but in Charlotte Mason’s words we can still “have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, in other times…”  So at a time when we can’t travel and see people so easily, books are a magical way of doing just that both for us adults and our children. So let’s help our children travel this summer and choose books to take them places.  They may even make some friends along the way. Continue reading

Tudor Books 8+

It’s all about the Tudors this term in our house.  There’s nothing like well-written historical fiction to bring history alive for young ones, alongside visiting museums and relevant places of interest. Continue reading

Children’s Christmas Stories

The Magic of Christmas
— Tom Krause

‘Joy to the World’, the carolers sang out
as last minute shoppers scurried about,
desperately seeking that one special gift
that would give Christmas morning a magical lift.

A old man standing still listening to the song,
amidst all the madness of the bustling throng,
in a shaky hoarse voice began to join in
singing the words of the famous old hymn.

One by one people stopped with their madness
to join with the old man for a moment of gladness.
By the time the carolers finished singing their song
the whole throng was united as they all sang along.

And as if by magic from out of the sky
church bells rang out from a chapel near by.
When the song finally ended the people greeted each other
with messages of good will they shared with one another.

You see that magical gift the shoppers sought for so long,
was not in the shopping or scurrying along.
That magical gift so desperately sought
was the Spirit of Christmas -which could never be bought.

Continue reading

Visiting Barcelona

Barcelona, a fountain of courtesy, shelter of strangers, hospice to the poor, land of the valiant, avenger of the offended, reciprocator of firm friendship, a city unique in its location and beauty.

— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote, 1605

Half term took us to the wonderful Barcelona for a few days, both “unique in its location and beauty” as Don Quixote exclaimed.  Of course this was centuries before four great masters of modern art, Gaudí, Miró, Picasso and Dalí added their creativity to the city. Continue reading

Children’s Audiobooks 7+

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau

With the summer holidays fast approaching, there is plenty of time to develop the world of our imagination.  We find audiobooks a great way of immersing ourselves in stories, so here are some we’ve enjoyed this year that you might like for your travels: Continue reading

An Evening with Katherine Rundell

Last week I had the privilege of attending a conversation between Lucy Mangan and Katherine Rundell at Mostly Books, Abingdon. Both are authors, bookworms and passionate about children’s literature – so it was a stimulating and inspiring evening.

Continue reading

Summer Picture Books

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

Doesn’t Mary Oliver capture the spirit of summer so well?!  Summer is here. What better way to celebrate with your little one than grab a blanket and a pile of books and head outside?! Continue reading

Victorian Historical Fiction 6+

As promised in last week’s post on World War II Historical Fiction, I’ve put a list together of literature set during the Victorian times that my daughter has pulled off our bookshelves. Continue reading