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"Thandi Counts to Ten" by Donald Woodburn

Why I wrote "Thandi Counts to Ten"

In 2002 when I first began writing I wrote about accents (The Boy Who Sounded Different), culture (All the People of the World), social issues (Palace Malice), snot (He Sneezed On Me) and so on which was thoroughly enjoyable. I wrote in creative spurts and usually about subject matter that interested me.

And then one day my Mum, who writes for a few educational publishers, asked if I could write to a brief, such as with a counting book. So I sat down to try. At first I was very rigid in my approach until I realised that although there was a ‘brief’ to consider, I still had to enjoy what I was doing and explore the ‘brief’ through my creativity. And so “Thandi Counts to Ten” was born, written in rhyming verse located inside the wonderful world of All the People of the World.

The Book

Educators love this book, and I am not surprised! You see, Catherine and I were assisted in the key stages of planning on this book (by four teachers and quite a few vocal librarians) to ensure that Thandi Counts to Ten would incorporate Curriculum Statement principles and serve as more than a simple reader. And it certainly does! In fact it’s a book that I am really proud of because it mixes entertainment, life and learning in a wonderful simple way. With Curriculum Statement principles in mind Catherine worked hard at making the illustrations visually exciting and fantastically South African while I kept the text bouncy and enjoyable. So it is a real mix of fun and learning!

In the book Thandi counts everyday objects and experiences mathematics in her bright, exciting, and very recognizable contemporary world. Using funky illustrations we incorporated patterns, concepts of space and shape, number names, number symbols, basic number operations, and counting on. And the book serves for teaching visual literacy with counting concepts cleverly carried from page to page. For example Thandi’s ponytails, eyelashes and earrings all reflect the increase of numbers from page to page. For scanning purposes Thandi also wears her clothes more than once in different combinations. And very importantly on pages 10, 18 and 26 each of the pictures is made up of elements of all the pictures preceding them! Really good detailed work to teach from, and for kids to scan and explore for long periods!

There is also a wonderful double counting page at the back of the book that represents South Africa’s other ten official languages and Deaf Sign. And in the spirit of All the People of the World we allow the book to subtly engage with values and attitudes such as self esteem, family life, gender equality, race, environment and so on. And the rhyming verse too is useful to use as a springboard for exploring and developing language skills.

And so it is with confidence that I can say that Thandi Counts to Ten is a truly dynamic, modern and inclusive counting book that you should take a look at.


Thandi Counts to Ten uses:

number names
number symbols
the building up and breaking down of numbers
counting on in multiples
everyday objects
number lines
counting forwards and backwards

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