Saturday, February 20, 2016

Meet Roundafire, My New Digital Publisher & Join Nal’ibali On Their Read Aloud Day Celebration. There Is A Free Children's Book Involved

When blogging as a way to procrastinate. I'm supposed to be getting ready to attend an extended family gathering happening this afternoon. Basically, the Senne-Pitsoe families, descendants from multiple great grandfathers Keledi and Ramodutwana, who we can track from waay way back, gather regularly so that we can get to know each other. I want to go because it's interesting to meet all these cousins of different ages and interests. Some of them live in the area. Others may have moved.

The challenge is that in modern times we grow up, marry, have kids, get involved with our nuclear lives and friends and careers and colleagues from work and hobbies, and pretty soon, the following generations have little contact with the greater family.  And it's hard to muster interest in some strangers who have a long-diluted blood link with you.

We mean to fix that through the regular gatherings, encouraging young people to know of each other and where possible, use shared common interests to build a stronger bond. There are lots of us though and for me, attending can be a stressful thing. In real life, I'm not a very social creature and some days I just want to cocoon in my cave home. Close friends bandy the word "hermit" enough to be a bit disturbing, but they make an effort to visit regularly so that I actually look like I have a decent social life. Huh. Anyway, today is one of those days when I'd rather just hide  work in my garden [people don't want to go there with me because I might want to make them dig some worm-infested soil].

One of the organisers said there will be some elders who will share with me folktales and forgotten legends from our area to feed my muse. Yes, I was aware it was encouragement-cum-bribe to draw me in. There are also two family poems that I've been meaning to get hold of and some members of the gathering have copies. So, yeah, I'll stop dragging my feet and go! There are lots of good reasons to go. I think.

About Roundafire, my new digital publisher

Source: Roundafire
But before I go, let me tell you about Roundafire, who are going to publish some of my children's stories (African language and English). They gave me a contract more than a year ago, we are in edits for some and illustrations in others, so it's pretty much a done deal.

Anyhoo, Roundafire is a digital company and they have developed a children's books app of the same name.

According to co-founder  Kgosi Kgosi, their mission is to encourage a culture of reading among children and "further afford every child within our diverse, multicultural and multilingual society the opportunity to experience the joy of story and simply to read relatable and relevant stories representative of their backgrounds."

He says the benefits of the app are that:


  • It serves as a platform for leisure reading for the young ones.
  • New stories will be uploaded regularly.
  • The library is a good  mixture of educational material and storybooks.  
  • Children can read across different genres all in one app.
  • Stories are relatable and relevant to children of our society. No Cinderella! 
  • It will, in future, host stories in some of our local languages like: Zulu, Tswana, Afrikaans as a start. (This is where I'm coming in with my African language stories)
  • Stories are written and illustrated by South Africans so the economic value chain benefits locals and the arts
I think from a parent's perspective, the app makes bedtime reading easier. I still remember re-reading the same old story for Baby, wishing that I had access to more. As a writer, I could make up some on the fly, and later placed them online for anyone to use, but it was not a sustainable thing for me.For parents who may not even be able to make up a story on the fly, this app helps because it gives you access access to a library that is regularly updated and the price is more reasonable than buying individual books.

Also, too many times I've heard my African friends say, "I'd love to read my children stories in our language, but there aren't many of those books out there or I can't find them in a bookshop in my area or [Insert Another Reason here]. Roundafire enables that much-needed access. Being a tech fangirl myself, I also love this marriage of my two loves.

In case you're wondering if I'm biased towards them? Yes I am. Kgosi found me online and we started emailing back and forth over some other issue. Eventually he told me about his project, we met, I liked what I was hearing, he made me an offer, we couldn't reach terms and we left the door open for further collaboration. We continued to chat through the months (about other things) and then eventually, the stars aligned and so some of my stories will come out  with his app.

So, I've seen Roundafire develop and grow for a while now. I fully support Kgosi and what the company is doing. And nope, they don't pay me to say that.LOL. We just a pretty straight-forward author-publisher thing going. But I get excited when I see people do something interesting that not only them but society as a whole.And I think the more of us support this kind of initiative, the more there will be more people innovating. So if you're a parent and you're looking for children's stories for your bedtime reading, check them out. and if you like what you see, download the app.

Read Aloud Day Coming Up on 24 February 24

Neo and the Big Wide World
Finally, don't forget that February 24 is Read Aloud Day.

To celebrate this event, National reading-for-enjoyment campaign Nal’ibali has teamed up with  South African musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka who will be giving her own special reading of Neo and the Big Wide World  in isiZulu to children at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.  

Neo and the Big Wide World, by Vianne Venter and illustrated by Rico of Madam and Eve Fame, is freely available for download from Nal’ibali’s web and mobisites. You can also find the links to download the book on bookslive.

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With the exception of entries specifically credited to individual authors, the content on this blog is copyrighted by Damaria Senne and may not be reprinted without permission.