Children's Fiction

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Tiny Tots: Anthology of Stories from Mpumalanga

Malvern, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa: umSinsi Press, in association with the Mpumalanga Department of Education, 2004. 60 p. ISBN 1-869006-16-X. Ages 6-10.

This collection is not so much literature for children as the beginnings of literature from children. It consists of writings and drawings by children, aged 8 to 10, in response to an initiative of the Department of Education in Mpumalanga (one of the nine provinces of South Africa). Part of the mission of the initiative is “to engage the whole Nation in a dynamic effort to reading and writing that affirms South African languages, history, values and development.”

Clearly, the writing has been checked for correct spellings and punctuation, but the words and thoughts seem genuine. Here are eight-year-olds talking about HIV/AIDS, street children, and being raped, alongside stories of talking animals and “The Most Happiest Day in my Life,” which includes a film, KFC, and ice cream. This collection is not high-level literature, but it accomplishes two highly important targets. First, by allowing children’s writing to be published, it shows the children that their work is appreciated and that writing is a worthwhile activity. Second, the publication shows adults how South African children are reacting to their lives today. The choice of title appears “cute” and condescending.

Children's Fiction

South Africa

The umSinsi Press