This paper was written for the 5th IBBY Africa Regional Meeting, which was held 29 August-1 September 2019 in Accra, Ghana. The conference took as its theme: the importance of illustrations in children’s books.
In this paper, we focus on storybooks that children read for enjoyment because of their positive impact on academic success and also because these stories underpin the sustainability of a viable reading culture. We explore the role of content, illustrations, communities, and language in giving children stories in which they can recognize themselves. In addition, because appropriate stories and illustrations require sustainable story creation ecosystems, we also explore the capacity building necessary and the costs involved for both African commercial publishers and community story production. Commercial publishers may have different cost drivers and expenses from the NGOs that help local communities write their own stories in their own languages. The paper also assesses the benefits and challenges entailed in open licensing, which donors, such as the US Agency for International Development (USAID), now require in grants and contracts. Open licensing can impact deleteriously on cost recovery and income unless all members of the publishing ecosystem understand its principles. Careful consideration of its ramifications is therefore necessary to ensure that costs are fairly and fully covered.