Pretoria - At just 9 years old, Reabetswe Kungwane is living her dream of being an author, as she has already had her first book published.
The Grade 4 pupil at Crawford Preparatory School in Pretoria launched her book on Saturday.
Titled Stories you’ve never heard before, it is a collection of 10 short stories based on her everyday experiences, each with a different moral, which Reabetswe hopes will inspire children her age. The book also incorporates her own illustrations.
Her natural ability to express her thoughts on paper and love for words was the reason she wrote, she said. Her first story was written when she was 7. It was titled Vanessa the sad seahorse. It forms part of the 10 stories.
During the launch, with the school hall packed with her peers and parents, the vivacious and well-spoken Reabetswe told the crowd it took being an avid reader, patience and practise to get where she was.
Reflecting on how she started writing, she said: “Picture this; a 5-year-old walked into her Grade R classroom to learn how to read and write. She learned lots and lots, and I mean lots, of words. She later learned how to make sentences with the words."
“This little girl loves to read; not only from books, but everywhere she sees words she would read them."
“It all started with the love of reading. I started reading when I was 3 years old and at the age of 7 I wrote my own stories."
“There are three things you need to do when you want to be a writer: first thing you need to do is read and I mean a lot, a lot; you must practise just like sports, where if you don't practise you don't get any better; and, finally, when you want to be a writer don’t give up,” she told the crowd.
Reabetswe was appreciative of all the support she had been given.
“The first thing I would like to say is thank you to God and to my family, teachers and friends for making this day possible."
“My dream has always been to be an author and a dancer - and, guess what, today I’m an author and a great dancer,” she said.
Unlike other children her age who would play with toys when they were bored, she said she wrote whenever she was bored and did so to inspire her peers, adding that she wished to see more young authors.
She sees herself owning a bookshop and hopes to make a fortune out of it.
Her proud parents, Mike Mpane and Veronica Kungwane, said they would help her reach her goals.
They said they were overwhelmed with excitement and pride: “I got it from her teacher that she is a natural writer and, even at home, she writes a lot of notes to express herself. Even when she wants something, she writes it on a piece of paper and gives it to me to read,” said her father.
“It is humbling. I mean, for a child as young as this to achieve as much as she has already achieved is 'wow',” Mpane said.
Her mother added that she was impressed at how her daughter juggled writing and school work.