Mandela Day 2020

Mandela Day Makers Space 2020: Big Book Bench

This Mandela Day, Learning in Reach invites you to make a Micro Library for major impact

Making books accessible to everyone


  •  Raise awareness of literacy challenges and solutions
  • 67 Book Benches to public spaces with 100 books (6700 books in total)
  • 67 Book Benches to ECDs
  • 67 Book Benches to underserved Primary Schools
  • Raise R670 000 towards teacher and parent training programs
  • #ChangeTheStory
  • #ActionAgainstPoverty
  • #MandelaDay
  • #EveryChild100Books
  • #100Before5


International studies have revealed that regardless of nationality, level of education, or their parents’ economic status, children who grow up with books in their homes reach a higher level of education than those who do not.

  •  Less than 4 out of every 10 learners from 2017 Grade 10 wrote and passed matric in 2019
  • 80% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning By investing in the early years where brain development happens, we can achieve better outcomes 15 years from now.

Consider it a long term investment with compound interest. You can change the story.

CHALLENGE: Host a Mandela Day Maker Space - sponsor and decorate a Big Book Bench Micro Library, complete with 100 African storybooks by Book Dash and a reading buddy toy giving children access to books in their homes.

Big Book Bench: MD Maker space

  • Raw pine box with separate lid
  • Can be painted, decoupaged, stencilled as part of Mandela Day Maker Space
  • Can have lid upholstered / put cushions on top
  • Can attach lid with hinges or leave separate
  • Can put on wheels, add feet or leave as is
  • Can be branded with optional printed backrest (to specs provided)

Big Book Bench: Contents

  • Option 1: new books @R67 each
  • Option 2: Book Dash books @R67 for 3
  • Option 3: good condition, preloved books
  • Target ages: 0-6 / 6-9 / 9-12 / 12-15 / Adult

Mandela Day activities

Mandela Day: Saturday 18 July 2020

  • Mon 13 July – Thurs 16th July: Maker Space at Community Chest, Workshop 17, corporate offices
  • Fri 17th: Celebrate on Bree Street
  • Saturday 18th: Celebrate at Workshop 17
  • >18 July : Store, sort, fix, logistics
  • August: celebrations and handovers

How to get involved

  • Donate books – new or pre-loved
  • Sponsor a bench
  • Spend 67 minutes at Mandela Day Maker Space
  • Crowdfund to donate a bench / books / both
  • Share on social media

*Dependent on donation of new books from publishing and bookstore partners

**ComChest/LiR Partnership: funds raised split 50:50 after overhead deductions

TIMELINE: Receive your flat-packed, raw pine book box ready for your staff volunteers’ creative flair by end of June. Personalise and pack by Mandela Day, ready for collection. Join the literary celebrations with beneficiary families in August.

Cost: R2000 for 100 books including a raw timber box with lid (the equivalent of R20 per book)

  • Invite staff to purchase a book for R10 and match their donation, sponsor outright or set crowdfunding challenges to meet your pledged target. Additional budget for decorating required.
  • Time spent per box will depend on decorating method chosen. Approx. 8 staffing hours / box for knitting, sticking, painting, assembling.

Download flyer for more information:

Frequently asked questions:

1. Is the 60% deposit refundable if we cancel before Mandela Day?

Should Learning in Reach cancel the project due to lack of commitment, all deposits will be refunded. The project will only proceed with a minimum of 1000 Micro Library’s pledged by 31 January. Once the project is confirmed, we will require 60% deposit for materials, manufacture and printing for the Micro Library kits and the deposit will not be refunded.

2. Can we brand the Big Book Bench?

It is possible to put in a bookmark or note in the bench saying something like “This box was lovingly decorated and sponsored by _____ just for you!” You may choose to put a little plaque on the box itself too.
We would like to avoid putting any branding on the books because we want the books to remain a pure, joyful experience rather than an opportunity for marketing. We want children and families who can’t afford books to have the same uncompromised experience of reading as those who buy the books for themselves.

3. How much additional budget is required for decorating?

This is dependent on your designs and creativity. Use leftover paint pots from garden sheds, scraps of wool and bits and pieces to create a unique masterpiece that doesn’t cost any more to complete.

4. What if we don’t have any knitters on our staff?

This is highly unlikely, but a donated stuffed toy can substitute a knitted reading buddy.

5. Can we donate 2nd hand books?

The Big Book Bench is made to accommodate beautiful, African stories produced by partnering NGO, Book Dash. 2nd hand book donations are welcome to stock Learning in Reach’s ECD lending library, but may not be added to the Big Book Bench.

6. How long will it take and how many staff will be required?

This is largely dependent on your chosen decorating technique. Decoupage or a hand painted design would take a lot longer to complete than a simple paint effect or stencilling a design. We estimate 8 hours per bench based on 2 hours to knit a reading buddy (dependent on knitting skills) and 4-6 hours to decorate the bench. This excludes drying time should paint be used. These tasks can be shared between 5-6 staff members to ensure each member utilises their 67 minutes.
It is quite possible that your volunteers will get great enjoyment out of crafting and choose to spend longer on this project!

7. How do you choose your beneficiaries?

Learning in Reach focus on geographical impact. Lavender Hill is our current focus where we will invest funds raised in teacher and parent training. Beneficiaries will be families with at least one child 0-5 years of age and will be selected from the Lavender Hill area.
Beneficiary parents will be invited to a 67min information session highlighting the importance of early learning and reading to children. Each participating family will be gifted a Micro Library for their children under 5 years.

8. Can we attend the celebration/s?

Yes! We would love to have you at the celebration with your branded banners. This is the perfect opportunity to see the fruits of your labour and to engage directly with families benefiting from your kindness.

9. The timeline doesn’t suite us, can we tailor it to our needs?

Please speak to us and we can try to accommodate your team.

10. Can we donate without participating in the maker space?

Yes, you can pledge Big Book Benches and our team of volunteers will decorate the benches for you.

11. Is our donation tax deductible?

Yes, Learning in Reach is compliant and registered as an NPC, NPO and PBO with a BBEEE Level 1 Affidavit. A tax-deductible receipt can be issued on request.