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African Storybook

The African Storybook (ASb) is a literacy initiative that provides openly licensed picture storybooks for early reading in the languages of Africa. Developed and hosted by the South African Institute of Distance Education (Saide), the ASb has an interactive website that enables users to read, create, download, translate, and adapt stories.

The African Storybook initiative aims to address the shortage of contextually appropriate books for early reading in the languages of Africa. Our vision is for all young African children to have enough enjoyable books to read in a familiar language to practise their reading skills and learn to love reading.

On the African Storybook website,, users can find, create, translate or adapt stories for early reading. They can download and copy the stories and/or illustrations without having to ask for permission or pay a fee. The stories can be read online or offline or printed from the website.

The initiative seeks to address the dire shortage of children’s storybooks in African languages, crucial for children’s literacy development. As of mid-2019 there are more than 1146 unique stories in 184 languages spoken in Africa, including English, French, and Portuguese, with many of the stories translated into other languages. The vast majority of stories on the site are by African authors, mainly traditional folktales and contemporary stories, as well as some poems and songs. More than half of the stories have been “ASb-approved”, meaning that the initiative has checked the content and language in the storybooks. All the stories are illustrated, either by professional illustrators or by the users themselves.

Due to the low purchasing power and demand for storybooks in Africa, along with the large number of languages, conventional produces relatively few titles, particularly in African languages.The open license digital publishing model of the African Storybook initiative, by contrast, makes it possible for people to print, display, and read stories on computers, tablets and mobile phones. The ASb also places content creation in the form of writing and translating in the hands of the communities who need storybooks for early reading in familiar languages.

Vula Bula

Vula Bula is the first graded reading programme in African languages where progression from school grade level to level is based on the phonics of each language.

The Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy, with the support of the Zenex Foundation, has made its innovative Vula Bula programme available as an Open Educational Resource that can be wholly accessed via the Vula Bula website. Print copies can be bought from the Molteno Institute.

These resources are available in South African official languages.

Among the resources Grade 1 and 2 readers (eight languages), Grade 3 readers (seven languages), anthologies (in IsiXhosa and IsiZulu), Big books (in seven languages), phonics and alphabet friezes and flashcards (all languages), vocabulary posters, high-frequency word lists, reading records and teacher guides.

The readers include comprehension questions, language usage activities and writing activities.

The readers and other materials can be downloaded from:


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