We are using cookies to give a better service experience. By using our services you agree to use cookies. Read more

All articles

Book Dash

We get high-quality books into the homes and hands of young children in under-served communities.

Owning books is a key factor in a child’s cognitive and socio-emotional development. To make a significant impact to the early learning opportunities for young children, Book Dash’s vision is that “every child should own a hundred books by the age of five”. We use an innovative book-creation model to eliminate costs involved in publishing, to get books into the hands of children in need.


Information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been evaluated by HundrED.

Web presence






Target group
Students early
February 2024
"Children who have a book of their own are 15 times more likely to read above the level expected for their age, than those who don't own a book" - National literacy Trust 2017. Global and local research indicate that children who own books before school have a measurable headstart in key developmental areas. We want to give children the headstart through our books.

About the innovation

Investing in early literacy is investing in the future of South Africa

Book-ownership among South African children is shockingly low – 58% of households don’t own a single leisure book (SABDC, 2016) – and it has lead to equally low literacy levels throughout school and into adulthood. Illiteracy carries a huge cost to the economy (​Gustafasson, 2010​) and reputable, worldwide​ studies​ show that improving access to books for low-income children is a low-cost, high impact way of addressing the problem, but traditional publishing models aren’t designed to create affordable books for all

Book Dash aims to flood the country with books to address South Africa’s illiteracy crisis. We achieve this through our innovative events, known as a Book Dash, that brings together designers, writers, illustrators and editors of the highest quality to produce uniquely South African story books in the space of 12 hours. With this being a volunteer run initiative it eliminates almost all of the publishing costs which allows us, with the help of our partners, to distribute these books into the homes of under-served communities. Working with dedicated partners we translate, print and get these books directly to children and parents across South Africa through various distribution channels.

Our innovative publishing model allows us to print our books at just R10 a copy without compromising on quality. All of our books are made using an open license, that maximises the reach of our books, by allowing anyone anywhere to access our books. Our online library gives access to all of our books as PDF ebooks, as well as PDF print-ready files and audiobooks where they are available.Alternatively our books can be read using our Android app available on google play!

Book Dash have distributed over 430,000 books through our dedicated distribution channel. We partner with organisations working with Early Childhood Development centers mostly in rural areas. This way we can ensure our books are making it into the hands of those that need them most!

Book Dash is a ​registered voluntary association​, non-profit-organisation (145-694 NPO) and public-benefit organisation (PBO 930047958). We issue Section 18a tax-exempt certificates for bona fide donations. We are also a level 1 B-BBEE organisation.

Implementation steps

Run your own Book Dash!

Please find the attached Book Dash manual that gives you all the information you need to run your own Book Dash event. Please let us know if you are running an event or if you need any help!


Print your own books, using our open-licensed content.
In order to achieve the maximum benefits of economies of scale we at book dash use a pool-procurement method for our collaborative print runs. This means in addition to funding we receive orders from other organisations who want to buy copies of our books. This way we are able to increase the number of books printed and bring down the costs.
Feature our books on your platform.

An online presence allows us to reach many more children. All of our books are made using an open license, that maximises the reach of our books, by allowing anyone anywhere to access our books and print them for their own use.

Sites already using our books include: 

- Global Digital Library 

- All Children reading 

- World Reader network 

- All Children Reading (USAID)

Spread of the innovation

loading map...