The South African Children's Book Forum (SACBF)

The South African Children’s Book Forum is an independent, non-profit organisation (NPO) which seeks to publicise and support quality books for young readers especially in South Africa.


The South African Children’s Book Forum (SACBF) was formed in 1988, following the huge enthusiasm aroused by Towards Understanding, the first ever symposium on children’s literature (the brainchild of Marjorie van Heerden) held at the University of the Western Cape during July 1987. The previous Association of Children’s Book Groups (headed by Jay Heale in Somerset West, Audrey Hitchcock in Durban and Eve Jammy in Johannesburg) happily merged into the new national SACBF. Their regional groups were, at various times, joined by others in Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Pretoria, East London, Port Elizabeth and Stanger. An affiliated CBF group was started in Windhoek, Namibia, which later became the Namibian CBF.


When the South African bid to host the 29th IBBY Congress was accepted, it was clear that an office was required. The SACBF was lucky to find premises inside Huis der Nederlanden in Pinelands during 1999. This has been their base ever since.

Physical address:
Huis der Nederlanden,
4 Central Square,
Pinelands, Cape Town.

Postal address:
PO Box 872,
Howard Place
7450, South Africa.



The SACBF is run by an Executive Committee, elected for three years. At present this EC consists of:

Chair: Anna Louw

Secretary / Treasurer: Jay Heale

Africa Liaison: Mpho Ndebele

Awards: Lona Gericke

Regional Groups: René Schoombee

Publicity: Audrey Hitchcock

Assisting with part-time secretarial work in the office are Anne Milton and Yvette Couperthwaite.


Access the full Constitution of the South African Children’s Book Forum will soon be available here.

Membership of Ibby

The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is the world body on children’s literature. IBBY has its Secretariat in Basel, Switzerland and has about 65 member countries. South Africa, represented by the SACBF, has been a member since 1992. All members of the SACBF are automatically also members of IBBY.
There have been South African representatives at every (biennial) IBBY Congress since 1988. South Africa has also been represented on the Jury of the Hans Christian Andersen Award (by Jay Heale in 1996 & 1998, and by Lona Gericke in 2004) and Jay Heale was elected by IBBY as President of the Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury for 2000 and 2002.

29th Ibby Congress

Hosting the IBBY Congress in September 2004 was certainly the most ambitious project of the SACBF so far. It was the first time that this prestigious event had ever been held in Africa. The event succeeded in attracting 593 delegates from 68 different countries to the five day Congress which included three full days of conference at the Baxter Theatre Centre in Cape Town. Copies of the special Congress Souvenir Magazine are available from the office.


The SACBF publishes a regular Newsletter for its members (available either by e-mail or post) which contains information on the local and international book world as well as reviews of South African children’s books. Other activities include:

  • SACBF Vivian Wilkes Award – our annual award for an indigenous illustrated children’s book, usually presented at our AGM in July.
  • Book Flood donated libraries – provided by fund-raising which was originally part of the IBBY Congress initiative. By the end of 2004, 43 such libraries had been donated (at an average cost of R6000 each).
  • Proudly South African: 100 Representative Children’s Books – this exhibition was launched during the IBBY Congress and has been touring South Africa ever since. This was made possible by sponsorship from Yamada Apiculture Centre, Japan.
  • The SACBF submits nominations for appropriate local and international awards such as the IBBY Honour List, the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award. South Africa has been awarded the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award twice: in 1993 for The Little Library (from READ), and in 2004 for First Words in Print (from the Centre for the Book).

The SACBF supports local book conferences and events such as World Book Day, International Children’s Book Day, Public Library Week as local circumstances permit.


Payment of an annual membership fee of R75 (renewable in January) brings Individual Membership of the SACBF (and, automatically, of IBBY). Membership includes the SACBF Newsletter and reduced fees for any SACBF event. Members are encouraged to form regional groups, if they wish, and financial assistance from the national body is available. At present, there are active groups only in Rustenburg and Port Elizabeth.