Surprise, surprise – it’s author Niki Daly

Niki Daly chats to the children.

Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Niki Daly held a surprise reading session with pupils last week, following the launch of his new book, Sharp-Sharp!Thoko!.

Daly visited Oakhurst, Grove, Micklefield and Rosebank primary schools from Tuesday September 18 to Thursday September 20, ending with a session at Wynberg library on Friday September 21.

Daly’s Not so Fast Songololo, won the US Parents’ Choice Award and paved the way for post-apartheid South African children’s books. Since then, he has been published widely and given talks in several countries.

Among his books, Once Upon a Time was an Honor Winner at the US Children’s Africana Book Awards, and Jamela’s Dress was chosen by the Association for Library Service to Children as a Notable Children’s Book and by Booklist as one of the Top Ten African American Picture Books of 2000. In 2009 he was awarded the Molteno Gold Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature.

During his visit at Rosebank Primary School on Thursday September 20, Daly spoke about the importance of reading, encouraging pupils to read as much as they could.

“Books play a very important role in our lives. Imagine not being able to read and how difficult it would be to navigate your way through life. Reading is an empowering tool,” he said.

Ending off his session with the pupils, he said: “The more you read, the smarter you get. The smarter you get, the more you read.”

Audrey Hitchcock, who has been involved with promoting children’s literature since 1979 and helped arrange the visits, said having an author sharing his own stories and illustrations with children was a privilege.

“We are extremely lucky to have a local author of such high calibre prepared to give time to present his books in schools and libraries.”