This project was conceptualized during the mid-1980s at Rivendell Children’s Centre, a non-racial pre-school in Grahamstown, where teaching methods were based on principles of peace, non-violence and care of the earth.
In opposition to apartheid, the centre taught children of all races, instructing them through story-telling, art, pottery, music, drama and nature study.
Many children had their first experiences of music and art at the centre, which earned a high reputation in the community.
On home visits in the township, I saw that there were no books in my pupils’ homes. Perhaps there might be a Bible or hymnal, but of picture books there were none. So storytelling and the book corner played an important role. There was a need for stories with a strong environmental, multi-cultural and African flavour, appropriate to a changing South Africa.
These were especially written and later published by African Sun Press. Donations from various funders allowed for the distribution of a third of each print run free to children beyond our school who had no books at home.
Rivendell Children’s Centre continued to function until 1994 when it became increasingly difficult to raise funds for running costs and eventually the school had to close.
Its vision of imparting ethical and moral values through stories, drama and art is now carried forward by Seed Readers.