African Storybook and British Council partnership for multilingual resources

In February this year, African Storybook partnered with the British Council South Africa to host a five-day creative and productive storybook making workshop in Durban with 22 educators from across the country. The goal of the high-energy workshop was for the educator-participants to write, illustrate and publish their own storybooks – in preparation for enabling their learners and colleagues to do the same. Reports Lisa Treffry-Goatley

The South Africa educator workshop was a follow-up to a previously successful African Storybook’s (ASb) collaboration with the British Council in Nigeria. The collaboration workshop hosted in Nigeria yielded 20 storybooks in English and West African languages – this year we partnered in South Africa for another creative and productive workshop.

The educators who participated were selected from applications invited by the British Council, in association with the Department of Basic Education and extended through their network of Teacher Associations.  The purpose of this gathering was for participants to gain the knowledge and skills to develop storybooks with children (developing their language and literacy), and storybooks for children (for reading practice and enjoyment) – and to show other educators how to do the same.

The workshop heard a presentation on the British Council’s dual language approach to literacy and language learning. This approach encourages the use of children’s own languages to support learning of English (or other languages of global use). The workshop approach entailed that each story was developed in two languages: a local South African language, and English. 

This ASb workshop took each educator through the processes of writing, presenting, editing, illustrating, creating and publishing a storybook. The first step emphasised an understanding of characters, plots, places and imagination; and remembering what it is like to be a child. In order for adults to create storybooks that will appeal to children, it is helpful for the writers to see the world through a child’s eyes.

Storybooks developed with other African educators were a key aspect to the workshop, as participants read and discussed a variety of storybooks published on the African Storybook website – many created at similar workshops with teachers in other countries. However, unlike at previous story development workshops, the participants also created the illustrations for their stories – and then put the two together in storybooks created in drawing books. 

Initially, many participants felt apprehensive about the idea of drawing, painting and colouring their own illustrations – but with a bit of practice and encouragement, they soon discovered inner talents and enjoyed the creativity. Finally, using the African Storybook Maker App, those storybooks created on paper could then be created digitally, and published online on the African Storybook website. 

Our process of storybook development involved reading storybooks in different formats (printed, projected and on cell phones and tablets); developing a story idea from a picture, object or memory; orally presenting story ideas; writing stories; sharing stories and giving feedback; editing stories; typing stories; drawing and colouring story pictures; and creating storybooks (on paper and digitally).

The enthusiasm and engagement of the participants reflected their commitment to sharing what they learned and motivating other language educators in their communities. Participants were encouraged to write their stories using any language in which they felt the most creative, and then translate the story in English. The following local languages were represented: isiXhosa, isiZulu, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, SiSwati, Sepedi, Setswana, Sesotho and Afrikaans.

The process explored at the workshop is presented in African Storybook’s ‘Guide to Creating Storybooks with Children’ [link to Guide]. Here are the English versions of some of the storybooks that were developed at the workshop and published using the recently-released African Storybook Maker App available for free for Android and Apple devices.

Click titles below to read produced storybooks.

Amara and the magic tree

An orphan

Baby mosquito

I also like pink

Rebirth of a kingdom


The pain of the shoe

Baby frog

 Zethu's necklace