A favourite project of mine.
The book came about in response to a lack of culturally relevant reading material for Southern African children. The illustrations show animals and objects that local children will recognise from their daily lives. The target audience is children age 2 - 8, their teachers/schools, and their caregivers. Ultimately, the book is designed for pre and beginning English readers. The layout is simple and easy for young readers to understand. It offers educational activities for several ability levels:
Basic letter recognition. The left page of each spread features bold, full page letters in both upper and lower case. The letters are large enough to trace with a finger to practice each letter shape.
Early reading. Each illustration includes a single sentence introducing each animal. The sentence structure is the same for each animal which aids in reading due to the repetitive text. Children can predict familiar words as the move through the book. The names of each animal have been carefully selected as common names in Southern Africa. Children are likely to recognize their own name or the name of someone they know in the book which is proven to increase reading enjoyment and engagement with the text.
Sound recognition. Built into each illustration is a series of items or actions that begin with the featured letter of the alphabet. Children are encouraged to find all of the things that begin with each letter. This aids in phonetic processing as the child must say each word aloud to determine whether it begins with the correct letter.