The Mikhulu Child Development Trust works with various illustrators to develop our wordless picture-books. For the most part, Mikhulu Trust has written all of our own stories, but we work with illustrators to help us put those stories into pictures. Mikhulu Trust has developed 11 wordless picture books through partnerships with different illustrators.

Writing our stories

Mikhulu Trust started writing stories in 2016, when we realised how hard it was to find affordable wordless picture-books set in the South African context. Mikhulu Trust’s books are designed around very specific child-development themes, written by our Founders and Child Psychology experts, Lynne Murray and Peter Cooper.

While the books are meant to be used during the book-sharing between an adult and a young children, the books themselves are written to elicit certain types of conversations that are developmentally-rich. For this reason, all the books are written to help children acquire language (i.e., learn to understand new words, learn to say new words and learn deeper meaning of the new words) by demonstrating scenes with various objects, actions, expressions and activities. The books are also designed to help children develop thinking and problem-solving skills.

Illustrating our stories

2017: Our first books – Lyn Gilbert

Lyn Gilbert is a qualified and highly experienced illustrator. She illustrated Mikhulu Trust’s first two books, ‘Little Helpers’ and ‘All’s Well That Ends Well.’ She was able to articulate our vision exactly, using simple and realistic imagery typical of the South African context. Lyn subsequently donated her time to illustrate ‘Children Like To Play.’

2018: Our first Illustration Incubator

Mikhulu Trust was funded to develop four new wordless picture-books, with the primary goal of supporting the development of new black South African children’s book illustrators. We worked with four young, previously unpublished, South African illustration interns to develop five new wordless books. Lyn Gilbert mentored each of the illustration interns. She met with them weekly, commenting on their illustrations, guiding them on page-by-page planning and providing advice on how to successfully make a living as an illustrator. The illustration interns also received other mentoring support such as exposure to other professionals in the book production industry.

2019: Expanding the incubator – Moloko Mabotja

We loved all of the books that came out of the Illustration Incubator, but one of the illustration interns did very well, and he was commissioned to develop one extra book for Mikhulu Trust. He still needed some support from Lyn Gilbert, but he did very well in working towards becoming a professional illustrator.

2021: Illustration partnership with University of Johannesburg

In 2021, Mikhulu Trust partnered with the University of Johannesburg’s Department of Graphic Design (UJ DGD) to collaboratively develop new books. Through this partnership, UJ DGD would identify, source and manage illustrators at various expert levels (professional, newly qualified and student illustrators). Mikhulu Trust would write the stories, and provide feedback and input on the illustrations. We have developed 2 books through this process so far, and we are in the process of developing a further 4 books.

Mikhulu Trust is invested in helping children’s book industry in South Africa. We aim to contribute to the publication of affordable, easily accessible books that are developmentally rich and culturally appropriate.

We have developed the expertise to guide both writing and illustration processes to produce books that serve children’s development needs.

We greatly appreciate the support that illustrators have given in working with us to develop our books. All illustrators with whom we have worked have given full publishing rights to Mikhulu Trust, with appropriate acknowledgement to them for their work. This enables us to print books as cheaply as possible and distribute books as widely as possible.

If you are interested in being involved in this process, please feel free to contact us! We would be happy to talk about how we could potentially work together in future.

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