World Book and Copyright Day on 23 April is a celebration to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Now that so many of us are at home with our children because of COVID-19, we can explore the virtual world of children’s stories – all free to read and many openly licensed. Some wonderful book and reading resources are listed below. 

African Storybook

With more than 7,200 children’s stories in 190 African languages, African Storybook has something for every child, from the very young ones just learning to read to older children. It’s possible to search in various ways, including by language and reading level, and to download freely and print. Most of the storybooks are created or translated by local educators and reflect African contexts. There is also an excellent guide for parents, teachers, and librarians on Preparing to Use African Storybooks with Children. Over 4,000 of these storybooks can be found on the ASb reader app. Selected books can be downloaded onto a personal library for offline use. 


There are more than 19,000 stories in 234 languages on the StoryWeaver platform. StoryWeaver has created a special page on Reading at Home during the Coronavirus school closures. This page links to: learning resources from grades one to eight; StoryWeaver’s special collection on science, mathematics, and technology; its local-language digital libraries, including African languages; and more.

Book Dash

Book Dash believes that every child should own one hundred books by the age of five. This South African non-profit gathers creative professionals who volunteer to create new, African storybooks that anyone can freely translate, print and distribute. It creates beautiful, high-quality books for young children in all South African languages. They currently have over 100 titles. Book Dash also has a short guide on Tips for Reading with Young Children.

African Storybook, StoryWeaver, and Book Dash use a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence, which means that you can download, print, share, translate, and adapt all of the stories in their collections.


Nal’ibali (isiXhosa for “here’s the story”) believes that well-established culture of reading can be a real game-changer for education in South Africa. Literacy skills are a strong predictor of future academic success in all subjects – and children who regularly read and hear engaging stories, in languages they understand, are well equipped and motivated to learn to read and write. Nal’ibali promotes reading and writing in mother tongue languages. 

Nal’ibali has free to download stories and reading resources for children and teenagers, accessible here


Audible (by Amazon) is a platform that allows you to stream audiobooks. While schools are closed, Audible is allowing free access to stream an incredible collection of stories for children and teenagers, including titles across six different languages. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. Note that these titles are currently freely available, but they are protected by full copyright.

The Early Literacy Resource Network

The Early Literacy Resource Network provides links to research and resources on licensing, policies, creation, and use of high-quality children’s materials in the global South. The Teaching Literacy page provides information for teaching reading and literacy skills. For more early literacy resources and information on how Creative Commons licences are used, access Good Stories Don't Grow on Trees: A Guide to Effective Costing of Storybooks in the Global South.