Some of last year's volunteers hard at work creating books for young children at the annual Book Dash held in Johanneburg. Photo: Supplied
  • The annual Book Dash will see 50 volunteers - some of SA's top authors and illustrators - produce nine books for children in 12 hours.
  • The aim of the Book Dash is to encourage book ownership and reading from an early age.
  • The Dash has, in the last 4 years, printed and distributed over 400,000 books countrywide.

The 12th Book Dash will take place on 27 October at the Streetlight School in Jeppestown, Johannesburg.

The event, currently in its fourth year, connects 50 top local writers and illustrators. They work in teams for a total of 12 hours to produces nine brand new original African storybooks for children. 

Award-winning novelist Lauren Beukes has been one of the participants in the past and this year Mail & Guardian illustrator Carlos Amato will also work on the books.

Volunteers work in teams to write and illustrate story books over 12 hours. Photo: Supplied

Book Dash, a non-profit organisation, has so far distributed 400,000 brand new books to children across the country. All books are available for free, and can also be downloaded and altered freely.

Book ownership is shocking low in South Africa, and contributes to the country's very low literacy levels, says Dorette Louw, programme director of the Book Dash.

"Low literacy levels carry a huge cost to the economy and studies show that improving access to books for low-income children is a low-cost, high impact way of addressing the problem," she says.

"Every child should own 100 books by the age of 5," Louw says. In South Africa, this means giving away 600 million books.

See also: 5 tips on writing the great South African novel from a popular author

The books produced and published at the Book Dash can be downloaded and reworked for free on their website. Photo: Supplied

Some of the works from last year's volunteers at the annual Book Dash held in Johanneburg. Photo: Supplied

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