Children’s book aims to give learners hope during the Covid-19 pandemic

More than 25,000 learners on the Cape Flats participate in the launch of Yola and the Trusted Crown for International Literacy Day

| Text and Photos by Ashraf Hendricks

Grade 1 learner Wasimah Jacobs was among thousands of children on the Cape Flats who took part in International Literacy Day on Wednesday. One of the events was the launch of a new children’s book called Yola and the Trusted Crown, aimed at helping younger children navigate their way through the Covid-19 pandemic.


More than 25,000 learners from 26 schools on the Cape Flats participated in the launch of a new children’s book, Yola and the Trusted Crown, as part of International Literacy Day on Wednesday.

Each school spent an hour reading and discussing the book. Written by Siphokazi Madlingozi and illustrated by Thabiso Gcwensa, the story follows Yola, a young girl returning to school during the Covid-19 pandemic. The book takes readers through some of the challenges of staying safe and resilient during the pandemic.

GroundUp joined about 18 grade 1 learners at Hillwood Primary in Lavender Hill, in a classroom with brightly coloured walls with hanging letters and giant pictures of insects. The learners listened attentively as author Madlingozi and others read the story to them. Each child was given a yellow crown to wear, matching the crown in the book.

Author Siphokazi Madlingozi reading to learners at Hillwood Primary in Lavender Hill.

After the reading, the school gathered in the courtyard to watch grade 4 learners play parts from Madlingozi’s book.

Madlingozi said the story is set in a school so children can relate to the themes, and the popout crown in the book acts as a “mental switch” to help them make decisions in a time of crisis.

This is Madlingozi’s second book. Her first, My name is Sandi, focused on self-belief. She said her books aim to give children “tools to cope in different situations”.

The event at the school was organised by Living Through Learning, which focuses on literacy at disadvantaged schools. The books were commissioned by Coronation Fund Managers.

Grade 4 learners at Hillwood Primary acting out the new book, Yola and the Trusted Crown, to the rest of the school on Wednesday.

Yola, the hero of the story, was “very smart and beautiful”, said Tyler Poggenpoel, 10, one of the actors. He said that the book taught him about washing his hands, keeping his mask on and keeping his distance. His favourite story is Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Other schools involved in the book launch include Levana Primary, Vergenoeg Primary and Matroosfontein Primary. The book can be downloaded free online and is available in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and Sesotho.

Yola and the Trusted Crown, written by Siphokazi Madlingozi and illustrated by Thabiso Gcwensa, is available to download free online.

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TOPICS:  Education

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