Our materials development work has its roots in a trilingual – isiXhosa, English and Afrikaans – calendar for Western Cape teachers in 1998. The first set of Little Hands books we created was in 2000 when we realised most babies and tiny children had almost no ‘first’ books to explore. Our aim then was to provide young children with a range of beautifully illustrated stories developed in South Africa, and this has been followed by many publications for children over the years in African languages and English.

PRAESA’s materials development work enables and supports early literacy learning and a love of reading among children. It helps to facilitate the development of African literary artists and others involved in publishing multilingual children’s literature.

Isiqalo, Beginning with Books

Isiqalo, Beginning with Books, was produced for the First Words in Print project in the mid-2000s. PRAESA was a founding and initiating partner of the project, which was run by the Centre for the Book with a team of collaborators. The name of the project, First Words in Print, comes from a quote from the book Teacher  by Sylvia Ashton Warner, first published in 1963: “First words must mean something to a child. First words must have intense meaning for a child. They must be part of his being.”

These videos are reproduced with kind permission of the Centre for the Book, Cape Town. The scripts were written by Carole Bloch and they were directed and produced by Margie Orford.

Beginning with Books 1: An introduction to the idea of using books with babies and young children

Beginning with Books 2: Getting deeper into books with babies

Beginning with Books 3: Sharing books with little ones – highlighting connecting through emotions and language

Beginning with Books 4: Finding print to notice and explore everywhere

Beginning with Books 5: How listening to and telling stories grow reading and writing

Best-selling classics in five languages

PRAESA, with funding from the Rolf-Stephan Nussbaum Foundation, facilitated the translation and publishing of three international best-selling children’s classics by Leo Lionni in English, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu, Sesotho and Afrikaans.

An Extraordinary Egg, Frederick and Swimmy (available from Jacana) are among more than 40 highly acclaimed books by Leo Lionni, designer, illustrator and graphic artist who was honoured posthumously in 2007 with the Society of Illustrators’ Lifetime Achievement Award. Lionni, who died in 1999 at the age of 89, was born in Holland and lived in Italy and United States. He received the 1984 American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal and was a four-time Caldecott Honour Winner.


Deep in the sea there lives a happy school of little fish. Their watery world is full of wonders, but there is also danger, and the little fish are afraid to come out of hiding ... until Swimmy comes along. Swimmy shows his friends how – with ingenuity and team work –...

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Winter is coming, and all the mice are gathering food ... except for Frederick. The mice are not happy with Frederick who seems to daydream and doesn’t help them enough. But as it becomes cold, and food gets scarce, the mice gather together around Frederick, whose...

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An Extraordinary Egg

It’s an extraordinary day on Pebble Island for three frogs when one of them discovers a beautiful white egg. They’ve never seen a chicken egg before, but they’re sure that’s what this must be. So when the egg hatches and out crawls a long, green, scaly creature, they...

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Among our titles

Fruit Salad

Fruit Salad, by Suzana Mukobwajana and Fortunee Kubwimana, illustrated by Felix Seminega, is one of the 16 little books for Little Hands for children aged 0-6. Written in Rwanda, Fruit Salad simply names several fruits that are liked by various children whose names...

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The four books in this board book set – the third in a four-set series – are written and illustrated by Niki Daly. The concepts are simple and accessible to all toddlers, as anything new they discover in a book needs to be interpreted in their own way. We imagine that...

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The Happy Prince

Oscar Wilde’s timeless, compassionate tale of the friendship between the Happy Prince and the Swallow is brought to life by Joan Rankin’s sensitive, magical artwork. Beloved since it was first published in 1888, this enchanting story will be enjoyed by both adults and...

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To come

Are there other categories of materials to go here?