Photo via bookdash.org

A South African publishing initiative is revolutionizing the country’s reading culture by taking an innovative approach to children’s books publishing.

Book Dash, a not-for-profit organization founded by Arthur Attwell, is providing affordable books with premium content for children. They invite writers and illustrators to volunteer their time to create children’s books. As much as 50 volunteers attend book creating events called “book dashes.” They usually have 12 hours to create new titles, complete with text and images. The books are then printed and distributed for free to children in the community, in partnership with literacy organizations and libraries. There is also an app for reading digital versions of the book.

Everything about the model is brilliant. You get top-notch writers and artists to work for free and then get donors to sponsor the printing.

It is heart warming to see super-duper high-profile writers like Lauren Beukes supporting the project. She participated in a recent book creation event. She did the writing. Nana Venter did the illustration, and Cape Town based MasiArtSA did the design. The result was a book titled And Also! Here are the pictures she shared on her Instagram page @laurenbeukes.

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The best part of the Book Dash project is that the books are open source, meaning that anyone anywhere in the world can translate and reprint them without the least bit of hassle.

We are in love with the project. Giving children free books is wonderful, but taking the extra step to make sure that they are getting books with great content is on another level of amazing.

At the rate at which they are going, Book Dash could just meet their goal of getting a child to own 100 books by the age of 5.

Kudos to the folks at Book Dash!