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How we work

How we work
The key words are Workshop and Toolboxes. Workshops take centre stage when we work with children and really get down to basics. We have included the ideas developed there to make reading kits that can be used by teacher-librarians and others - to reach more children.


A typical workshop would start with a bang - possibly the bang of a drum. We begin with a celebration of story and books that leaves the children wide-eyed and ready for more. Typically this might be on a Friday afternoon when school is finished for the week, not a good time to start work, but a good time to be entertained and excited. This book party includes food and something hot to drink. We aways make sure that participants are well fed before and during our workshops and that they are warm enough and safe while they are with us. Ideally a workshop extends over a further two days, either consecutively in school holidays or over two Saturdays during term time. Our most successful workshop was spread over four days in the long winter holidays - it gave the children a chance to really get some work done and to interact with the themes.

During the working days, we divide the children into groups and rotate them between various activities. In between they always come back together for stories and books  that we hope will inspire their own writing and illustrating. Activities last around twenty minutes, with longer periods for excursions for map work or photographic essays. 

For more detailed reports on workshops, please go to:

Activities include:

•    Listening to beautiful language
•    Writing in all media - conventional and on iPads
•    Individual journals and stories
•    Making books on tablets
•    Photo-journalism
•    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
•    Drummingand playing on rock gongs
•    Landscape in Art

All of these are open to input from the children themselves, as well as facilitators and interested others, to new ideas, to innovation before, during and after workshops.


There are 50 books in a themed toolbox. More importantly, there is a very detailed handbook on how to make best use of the books and ideas for activities that will complement the theme.There is also a supplementary bag of materials including a box with art materials and the CBN Reading Game. 

For more information, please go to:


We now have a complex and well designed website at our fingertips. Tnere is still a lot to be done. In particular, we would like to develop a children's website - maybe one that could be clicked through to. When funding permits, we will be developing the children's publishing side.

What is for sure is that technology will be part of how we publish children’s thoughts, listen to what they have to say and encourage them onwards. The website is a forum for them to communicate as well as a place where they can see their own work. It is a place where we can display chosen texts (with permissions meticulously followed up by our Book Editor, Jay Heale), and record and archive our activities. We are hoping soon to develop a child-friendly section of the website for children under twelve.

We are developing better social media systems - particulalry as this is a way to reach more children.


16 Jan 2018
'I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work...
2 Jan 2018
A summary of what we do and how we do it. Where did we come from? • CBN started in 2012 working with Red Hill informal settlement • Founders Gcina Mhlophe, Lesley Beake and Sindiwe Magona • Four...
7 Oct 2016
Mike Fisher wrote the following extract in The Guardian newspaper (quoted from Jay Heale’s Bookchat, with thanks.) He’s right!
7 Mar 2016
This document explains just what a Children's Book Network workshop might be for a child.
4 Jan 2015
Our goal is to bring books to children and children to books by making reading fun and exciting as well as useful.