The Mikhulu Trust is the custodian of two programmes for caregivers developed by Professors Peter Cooper and Lynne Murray of the University of Reading (UK): Supportive Book-Sharing, and Thula Sana. Both of these programmes have been evaluated in randomised control trials, and are part of the World Health Organisation’s Parenting for Lifelong Health Suite of interventions.

We train and license organisations that work with parents or crèches to deliver our programmes. If you would like to receive training, please contact us. To find out more about the research underpinning each programme, see our research page.

We also produce culturally appropriate, developmentally sensitive and affordable picture books for book-sharing.


Supportive Book-Sharing

Supportive book-sharing is about having a stimulating and rich interaction between an adult and a child over a picture-book. Rather than reading to a passive listener, supportive book-sharing involves the carer engaging the child actively in conversation about the picture content, relating it to their own experience, and encouraging the child’s curiosity and thinking skills.

Sharing books in this way with a young child is the single most effective way for a parent or carer to support their child’s development. The practice propels children’s linguistic development, and has been termed a ‘language acquisition device’. By encouraging engagement and providing responsive interactions, book-sharing helps promote the child’s ability to sustain their attention, as well as advancing their concept development and social understanding.

Most important of all, sharing a book with a young child is an enriching and rewarding emotional experience for both the child and the adult.

The Mikhulu Trust has developed four book-sharing training programmes for the carers of preschool children (see Resources for further details)

  1. The MT Programme for carers of 12 to 20 month old children;
  2. The MT Programme for carers of 20 to 30 month old children;
  3. The MT Programme for carers of 30 to 60 month old children;
  4. The MT Programme for group presentation (e.g. crèches).

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Thula Sana

The Thula Sana intervention is a home-visiting programme developed by the Mikhulu Trust  for pregnant and newly delivered mothers.  It is based on the principles outlined in  ‘The Social Baby’ by Lynne Murray (2000). The purpose of the intervention is to enhance maternal sensitivity and to promote secure infant attachment.

The Thula Sana intervention involves women being visited twice in late pregnancy and then on 14 occasions over the first six postnatal months. At these postnatal sessions, in the context of providing the mother with emotional support, the facilitator uses particular items from the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Schedule (Brazelton, T.B., & Nugent, J.K. (2011)) as a means of sensitizing a mother to her infant’s individual capacities and needs.

The Mikhulu Trust has produced a manual for deliverers of the Thula Sana intervention, together with Powerpoint and video training materials (see Resources for further details).

Wordless Picture Books

There is a severe shortage of developmentally sensitive, affordable, and culturally appropriate children’s picture books in South Africa. Wordless picture books enable all parents, regardless of literacy level, to provide early childhood education and care through book-sharing. When books are shared which do not have words, compared to when they do, adults talk significantly more about feelings and intentions. This is precisely the kind of talk that has been shown to improve child social understanding and empathy.

We are committed to addressing this need. In 2016 we produced our first book, “Little Helpers”, with an established South African, illustrator, Lyn Gilbert. The book is designed to encourage conversations about intentions, emotions and perspectives, talk that is critical for promoting the development of children’s understanding of the mental states of other people.

Further efforts are underway to produce more books of this quality.