A need for fun, interactive educational material for young children on themes of social awareness and responsibility has inspired two Cape Town women to launch a publishing company.
After 10 years of working on commissioned educational projects, illustrator Kate Boyes and former educator-turned-layout artist Mandy Lomberg started Hero in My Hood, which develops affordable story-activity books in response to research that showed children needed to be encouraged to be “courageous and kind”.
Their first publication, Let’s go to the Animal Clinic and Shelter with Lucky’s Activity Book, was developed with the help of the Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha and covers important aspects of pet care. The book is widely used in education programmes by animal organisations and is available in four languages.
“Activity books of this nature are a great educational tool as the children are engaged and involved in the story. They encourage empathy, compassion and responsibility. The aim is to encourage children to be heroes within their own hoods (neighbourhoods or communities).
“They do the right thing, not because they will get into trouble if they don’t, but because they know and understand the value in doing it. Our byline is ‘encouraging children to be courageous and kind’,” said Boyes.
Lomberg said by encouraging children to help the characters by completing the activities, they hoped to give them a sense of responsibility and achievement.
The duo were advised by experts, including Vanessa Farr, an international gender activist specialising in Africa and the Middle East; Lorna Lake, a clinical psychologist specialising in family matters; Professor Rachel Jewkes, executive scientist; and Dr Rochshana Kemp, a social work manager.
Boyes and Lomberg will publish a second book, dealing with gender violence, called Freestyle Stars.
They sell the books via a sponsorship programme, or in bulk to organisations and schools.