Books and Bricks by Sindiwe Magona, Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright
Published by Star Bright Books in 2017
A famous African proverb states “It takes a village to raise a child” but it also takes a village for a school to raise a school! Books and Bricks is based on a true story of Zerilda Park Primary School, in Cape Town , a community banding together to help their school succeed.
Manyano School is a school in Brown Veld Township, South Africa in a rough area. Many families are struggling to find work and there are issues around the school itself. The fences have holes in them, vandals (skollies) are messing around in the school each night, breaking things, stealing things, until finally, they cut a whole in the school roof and steal computers. Everyone is devastated by the loss of potential education when these computers are stolen.
The principal invites the parents to come in the evening. He learns that the parents feel overwhelmed and unable to help the school with it’s vandalism and theft problem because they feel overwhelmed because of lack of work and other issues. The principal realizes that one way to help the parents is to allow them to use the school as a community center for meetings, and that’s when things get interesting. While discussing projects that the parents want to do for the community, it’s suggested that the fathers use the space to make bricks for the community. Then then fathers were able to sell the bricks and that allowed the community to make money. Once the whole community sees the school as a place FOR the community, the positive results radiated!
This is based on a true story, and afterword tells what Dr. Alistair Witten experienced while working to transform his school and community. He also gives a bit of a summary of what life was like under apartheid This book features Afrikaans phrases sprinkled throughout the books and a variety of historical notes and discussion questions.
The paragraph at the end of the afterword stuck with me. Educators are working to make sure that we meet our students needs, make them feel safe, and encourage them to stretch themselves, and it’s always empowering to hear voices speaking up for their students AND communities: “School should be a place where students feel safe and cared for. It should be a place where hard work and commitment are encouraged. And it should be a place where our children can dream their futures…and know that these futures can be achieved because their teachers and parents care and believe in them.”
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher, I received no monetary compensation for this review.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
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