Renowned author of over 60 children’s books, Dr Seuss has inspired a love of reading in millions of children over the past eighty years. While his stories have been translated into more than 20 languages, first words and early reading books are not readily available in the XiTsonga language of the communities around the Sabi Sand and Kruger National Park. Recognising this gap, Singita’s community partnership team decided to create such a local-language book for the 2,500 young children who benefit from its Holistic Early Childhood Development (ECD) Support Programme.

Supporting ECD is a fundamental element of Singita’s community partnership work and aims to assist the physical, cognitive, psychological and social growth of rural children. The programme provides training and development opportunities to centre managers, teachers and parents, and the ECD Resource Drive (funded with the kind support of Singita’s guests) equips the classrooms with resources essential for the children’s development. These include books, educational toys, creative arts materials, fantasy kits, and outdoor and indoor equipment.

Working with ECD Specialists from Impact Consulting, illustrator Daley Muller and publisher Shweet Products, Singita used a professional translation company and the Department of Education xiTsonga curriculum specialist to produce a book that would engage bright, young minds, with illustrations that reflect the children’s daily lives. Scenes range from practical matters like modes of transport and good nutrition to the uniquely South African diversity of wildlife and important cultural landmarks.

The production of the book – titled Langutisa Kutani u Dyondza, meaning “Look and Learn” – was made possible by the generous donations of Singita guests; donations which are channeled directly through Singita’s non-profit conservation partner in South Africa, the Singita Lowveld Trust.

ECD centre managers and teachers at Singita-supported ECD centres are trained to use the book appropriately for the age group under their care, using it to support the visual and conversation components of a particular theme. Practitioners can teach by matching a picture with the sound of a word for younger grades, while older children can improve their expressive language by describing the various themes in the book, and start to recognise words towards learning to read.

It has been proven that quality ECD programmes result in enhanced academic outcomes, improved likelihood of advancing to higher education and increased employment potential. This delightful picture book is a wonderful example of the meaningful impact that guests can have in the communities which form part of Singita’s extended family.

Based on the latest ECD research and an extensive needs assessment of each school, we have identified the educational resources and equipment required to make each classroom a centre of excellence.

Please contribute to our Resource Drive and help to create a brighter future for the children living alongside our reserves. To date we have successfully raised 25% of the USD 320,000 required to resource the 17 currently participating centres.

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