Top new South African children’s books (for ages 3 to 6)

Spending time reading with your children is important, even from an early age it will help to increase vocabulary, enhance concentration and inspire creativity. It will also foster a love for reading which is essential for their school years, and it’s a wonderful way to spend quality time together.

We are lucky because there is an amazing range of children’s books available in South Africa, including incredible books from local authors. I’ve rounded up my favourite new South African children’s books for ages three to six years. We have enjoyed reading them with our children, and I’m sure you will love them too! Remember that “children are made readers on the laps of their parents” (Emilie Buchwald). Local is lekker, so let’s support our local authors.

Angry Owl Goes Swimming – Kerryn Ponter (R70)

This is a fun story that features beautifully coloured and expressive pictures. Angry Owl wants to go for a swim but prefers the quiet beach to the noisy pond where all the other birds are swimming. He gets dressed in his swimming costume, armbands and flippers, but too late he realises that he’s weighed down, can’t fly and lands in the pond. It’s a humourous tale and the pictures will have you giggling, but it also includes a lesson that the most important part of having fun is sharing it with your friends. You can also check out Angry Owl and I Wonder Who? by Kerryn Ponter.

You can read my full review of Angry Owl Goes Swimming here, and don’t miss my reviews of Angry Owl and I Wonder Who?.

I See an Elephant – Elaine Macdonald (R80)

Your children will love meeting the characters in this new rhyming story that have been so vividly brought to life with beautiful bright illustrations. It’s a book that sees an Elephant building a nest in a tree, the birds are not happy and they band together to chase him away. It’s a wonderful story with a gentle message that you can be whoever you are, even if that’s an unlikely Eli-bird!

You can read my full review of I See an Elephant here.

Chizi’s Tale – Jack Jones (R80)

This is the remarkable true story of an orphaned black rhino in Zimbabwe who was raised by a park ranger for three years until he was returned to the wild. The book features pictures that capture the essence of Chizi’s playful nature, your little ones will be captivated by the story of this rhino who loved soccer, taking naps under the air-conditioner, and sneaking into the shower to cool off. The conservation of our wildlife is an important lesson to teach our children, and we are all responsible to do what we can to support the fight. All proceeds from the sale of Chizi’s Tale will be donated to Tusk and will be used to help protect the black rhino.

You can read my full review of Chizi’s Tale here.

Mister Snail – Christy Peacock (R90)

Mister Snail moves into a new garden and at first is loving his home after making a few new friends. His friends, however, are not so pleased when they realise he leaves a sticky trail behind him and decide they want him to leave. Poor Mister Snail is sad, but he manages to win them over by showing them that there is beauty in his snail trail too. Your children will enjoy meeting all the garden animals, and they will also learn a few important lessons from this story too.

The Selfish Shongololo – Vanessa Tedder (R90)

Shongololo lives in a mulberry tree, but he doesn’t like to share the tasty sweet leaves and berries with the other animals in the garden. Even though he’s selfish and mean, the animals still try to help him when he gets into trouble with a hungry eagle. A great story to share with vibrant illustrations and a wonderful message of the importance of saying sorry, being friendly and sharing.

How many ways can you say hello? – Refiloe Moahloli (R150)

This is a wonderful story of a little girl who sets out to discover how many ways to say hello after discovering her new friends at school can all speak different languages. She meets more new friends along the way and learns all the ways to say hello. With rhyming verse and colourful illustrations, this is a great book to share with your children and also includes an amazing CD narrated by the author that will help you to pronounce hello in all 11 official languages.

How the Cheetah got his tears – Avril van der Merwe (R90)

The Cheetah is known as the fastest animal, but he finds himself in trouble after he boasts that he can run faster than even the wind. The wind accepts the challenge, wins the race and leaves the cheetah with tears running down his cheeks, which to this day serve as a reminder of his defeat. A lovely story that teaches little ones about being boastful and finding acceptance even when you don’t think you deserve it sometimes.

All of the above titles are published by Penguin Random House South Africa, and are available from bookstores and online retailers. 










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  • Reply Kirsten March 15, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    I read How Many Ways Can You Say Hello? to my 12-month old and it’s awesome! At the moment I’m still choosing books I like to read and this one’s a winner. And it makes a great birthday present 🙂

    • Reply Lisa Trollip March 16, 2018 at 8:29 am

      I’m so happy to hear that you’re enjoying ‘How Many Ways Can You Say Hello?’ So great to hear you’re reading to your little one, even from a young age they just love reading and learning from books.

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