Reading CAN make you happy!

It’s time to go back to school again!

I know lots of kids complain about school but I quite like it. I enjoy learning new things and finding out about interesting stuff, not to mention seeing all my friends again. We always have lots to talk about after the end of year break. Sometimes there are new kids in the class and that is cool too. This year I have signed up to do friendship bench duty – but more about that in another blog.

One of the things that really makes me happy is reading. You can absolutely never be bored, lonely or sad (okay – sometimes you can be miserable if the story is sad) if you have a book to read.

I was unbelievably shattered to find out that many kids my age cannot read. Seriously! They did a study and out of the 50 countries in the world that participated, South Africa has the worst statistics. 78% of our Grade 4 children cannot read for meaning. That means 8 out of 10 students can read – but don’t really understand what they have just read.

Even worse, it did not matter what language they were reading. Many of those kids were reading something in their home language and still did not understand what they had just read.

The thing is… if a person cannot read, and make sense of what they are reading, how on earth can they plan to study and go further in life? It certainly makes things very difficult, if not almost impossible.

My parents used to read to me most nights when I was smaller. I couldn’t wait to hear the next bit of the story. I would see the pictures in my head and imagine what the people or animals looked like. I always used to beg for a few more pages to be read but my folks were pretty strict about only ever reading one chapter per night. Luckily now I can read myself!

Often, parents are too busy or weary to read to their children at night. If the kids are lucky they might get to hear an audio book before they go to sleep, but sometimes they just get plonked in front of the TV instead. TV is absolutely no substitute for reading. You use less brain power than you do when you are sleeping while watching TV.

Make a New Year’s Resolution to read more… please people.


Smarty Pants

I read some stuff about being smart the other day – with exams coming  up we could all probably use a little extra smarts!

English is a strange language because “smart” has four different meanings.

It can mean a person is clever and quick in thought or action. For example, Mpho is really smart – she passed all her exams.

It could also mean that a person is well-dressed. For example, Mpho looked really smart in her new outfit.

Another meaning is to feel a sharp, stinging pain. For example, Mpho’s arm smarted for ages after the wasp stung her.

Lastly, it can mean that you feel annoyed or resentful after being insulted. For example, Mpho smarted for the whole of break time after Sandile said she was fat.

We are talking about the first one… here are some ways to help make us smarter.

  • Ask questions. It really is good to ask if we don’t know or understand something.
  • Get some exercise. This is a no-brainer – we know we feel better when we get out into the fresh air and start moving. Cycle, jog, walk briskly, hula hoop…
  • Eat healthy. Crunch apples and carrots instead of chips or sweets for snacks.
  • Keep a journal. It’s good to sit at the end of the day and reflect on all that has happened. It makes your memory work a bit harder too.
  • Learn a new skill. It does not have to be anything fancy – learn to knit, to code, or maybe how to bake – go nuts and try something new. Nothing ventured nothing gained!
  • Hang out with other smart people. This is so true – if we spend time with people who are interesting and interested – we feel smarter too.
  • Challenge your brain. Do crossword puzzles or Sudoku’s. Play memory games.
  • Change your routine. Try not to do things the same old boring way every single day – vary the order in which you do things, or eat lunch outside instead of inside. Sit in a different spot at school break. As the saying goes… a change is as good as a holiday.
  • Get enough sleep. Do it! Go to sleep at a decent hour our bodies need time to recover from a busy day.
  • Read more. Join a library or swap books with friends. There are also plenty of eBooks free on the internet that are available to read on cell phones too.

Think smart peeps!



Holiday Fun – Short Story Writing

It’s school holidays again and whilst it is great not to have to get up early on cold winter mornings, I bet some of us are going to get a bit bored somewhere along the line. Especially if we are staying home and our friends have gone away.

When I get bored I like to read. It’s hard to stay miserable if you have a great story to get lost in. If you don’t have any nice books to read you could maybe swop with a friend or even ask your parental agent to take you to the closest library. Libraries are awesome places, full of fabulous things to read and some of them even run holiday programmes that don’t involve only reading but doing lots of fun stuff too.

If you do get fed up and have nothing to do, think about writing your own short story. It could be about anything – your life, your pets, your family or even something crazy that you just thought up in your head.

Remember though, stories have a structure. They have a beginning, a middle bit and an end!

Before starting to write a story, think about the stuff you like to read… probably most people are not that fond of boring old blah blah blah stuff that puts one to sleep. Mostly we find that something that‘s exciting and makes us wonder what is going to happen next is much more interesting. The ones that have us turning the pages in a hurry to get to the end to find out what happens.

Here’s another idea… think about writing a story from a funny point of view.  Just imagine if you were a bath plug… you could write a seriously wacky tale. Or maybe a tree – a tall skinny one that can see incredibly far and has odd wavy branches that point all over the place. Think what fun a person could have writing a story involving all the creatures that live in that tree.

Go nuts and use your imagination. You could illustrate your story too.

Email your stories to (or click on the email icon above) and we’ll publish the best ones on Sibo’s website so that other people can also read them. (Keep your story between 400 and 1000 words please. Remember to include your name and age.)

Happy holidays everybody – get your creative writing hats on!


Consider a career in Science!

The 16th of February was International Day of Science for Women and Children. People tend to think that science is only for clever people – but actually – it is all around us and we are all doing some sort of science in one way or another each and every single day. In honour of this day – you can read “Sibo Mixes Things Up” – my story book about chemistry – it will be free to read on the website until the end of the month.

Nowadays girls are actively encouraged to pursue careers in science and technology. There are so very many interesting fields that you can go into, it is almost mind boggling.

We’ve been talking about planning, imagination and initiative over the past few weeks and you are going to need all of these things if you want to go into the science field.

SAASTA Observatory in Johannesburg also offers cool programmes for learners, teachers and members of the public. They have all sorts of exciting things to make you look at Physics in a completely different way. Check out their website for more information.

Nanotechnology is the way of the future as well.  I bet many people don’t even know what nanotechnology is. “Sibo Sizes Things Up” is all about nano – one of these days we’ll make that a free read on the website too! Stay tuned!

Remember – a safe bet is to always take maths as one of your subjects. Maths is one of those things that you sometimes feel like dropping because it seems a bit hard or not really necessary. In fact – it’s very necessary for lots of careers. If you don’t have matric maths there are some doors that are so firmly shut there is no easy way to open them again.

I mentioned while ago that science centres can help with career guidance. Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Jozi has a very awesome career guidance centre and it’s free. You can just walk-in and find out about jobs and careers that you never even dreamed of. However, for career assessments and career counselling they do prefer if you make an appointment. It’s a professional service and they don’t want to you to be disappointed if you arrive at the centre and the staff are all busy.  Call (011) 639 8450/8476/8479.

Last but not least – you can always go and visit a science centre like Sci-Bono in Newtown or Sci-Enza in Pretoria to have an enormous amount of fun and get you into a sciencey frame of mind!

Science rocks!


Being polite when using public transport


Remember last week I told you that it was International Literacy Day on the 8th of September! Well, I am super stoked. My latest book – Sibo on the Move – which is all about the Gautrain and how you should behave when you travel on public transport – is being launched on this very day in the Rosebank Gautrain Station.

How cool is that!

Wait! I hear you say… how on earth did you, Sibo, get to write a book about the Gautrain?

Actually it’s quite a funny story. We were busy with the road safety book – Sibo Looks Right. Not sure if you remember but actually we crowdfunded for this book so that we could share it with as many kids as possible.  Sadly we did not get enough money to print thousands of copies to distribute – but we did print a few and share them around the place. Plus of course the e-book is on my website for anybody to freely read.

Magically (there was a bit more to it than that – but we’ll leave it there) Gautrain got to hear about my road safety book and asked us all to a meeting. We thought that maybe they wanted to donate some money towards this book but it turned out, in fact, that they wanted their own Sibo book.

This is the book that is going to be launched on the 8th of September.  Actually it is also going to be used for transport month. This happens in October every year.  There is a serious drive in Jozi to minimize traffic on the roads and everybody is encouraged to use public transport as much as possible.

In fact – to make sure that people actually do this, some of the roads are closed off – so that people have to use public transport to get where they want to go – or walk!

This is part of the reason that Sibo on the Move was written – to help people remember that there is some etiquette to be adhered to when travelling on trains and buses.

Simple things like…

  • don’t listen to loud music
  • don’t put your feet on the seats
  • don’t sit in the seats that are allocated for the disabled or elderly
  • wait until people get off the train or bus before you jump on… and
  • eergghhhh – never ever stick chewing gum under the seat – that is beyond gross.

Travel safely people!


PS – If you want to read this book – it’s also freely available on – just click on the cover of the book.

International Literacy Day

Sibo studying

For more than 40 years UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has been celebrating International Literacy Day on the 8th of September to remind everybody in the world that “literacy is a human right and it is the foundation of all learning”.

So true – if you can read you can just about do anything.  Reading sets you free!

Many of us take reading for granted and forget that there are still millions of people in this world who cannot read. I’m not talking about babies or young kids either. I’m talking about adults who just never had the chance to learn.

The sad thing today is that many kids have plenty of opportunities but just can’t be bothered to read. My friend Ginny had a stand selling books at the mall last year and some kids sauntered over to check them out. One dude picked up a book and leafed through it. His friend took it out of his hand and said “No ways! It’s a chapter book. We don’t like chapter books.”  Then they ran away laughing before Ginny had a chance to ask them what they meant by not liking chapter books?

Books are great. They open up so many different worlds. You can get lost in them and imagine that you are the heroine or the villain in the story. You can learn about new places and different countries. You can find out about different animals and how they live – ones that you will maybe never see in real life either (except in a zoo).

Of course the more you read the cleverer you get too!

Kindles and electronic readers are all the range these days  – they are useful if you are going away because then you can take plenty of books with you in one neat little package instead of lugging a suitcase!

Reading makes me happy when I feel sad. If I’m bored, I grab a book to read.

Even if I don’t really feel like reading a story – I can still read something that shows me how to make things – like the nifty beads I told you about last week.

Of course it’s not just books that we read; there are newspapers, magazines and comics as well. You can watch subtitles on the TV too.

If you’ve got a computer you can go to and read some books on-line free.

Read more!





Multi-tasking… good or bad?

Sibo at her desk

Often we have more than one thing that needs to be done – like maths homework, reading, spelling to learn, chores to do, the dog to walk and an art project that also needs to be finished.

Sometimes it is all mind-bogglingly too much and you feel like running away. Seeing as that’s mostly just not possible, you have to get stuck in and just do the darn stuff.

Lately there has been a lot of research done on multitasking – this is when you have several things on the go at one time.

They say that it is not always effective to do this.

Often you jump around between doing so many different tasks that you get nothing done properly. They reckon you should make a list and prioritise which are the most important things that need to be done.

Then you should stick to that list.

For instance – if you need to learn something – you really need to concentrate so that you will be able to remember it later and therefore you should not multitask while doing that particular job.  It is better to focus 100% on it – like learning for exams – dedicate a chunk of time and get it done properly.

On the other hand – they say that when your mind jumps between a lot of boxes – your mind tends to think more “out of the box” which could be great for creative things – like art projects.

For things like spelling you could put a list of the words you need to learn next to your bed, so you can see them last thing at night and first thing in the morning. Or you can read them when you go to the bathroom.  In this case a lot of repetition is good.

You could combine your daily exercise when you walk your dog – but remember you still have to be careful and not to let it off the leash by mistake. Accidents happen so quickly and you would never forgive yourself if you let something happen to you precious doglet.

Sometimes chores are really boring – like washing dishes or vacuuming – but you can always listen to music while you wash. I love listening to music – it makes any chore go much faster.

But remember – dedicate time to the important stuff and do it properly.

Work well!


Days Have Names Too!

Sibo hands

Last week we talked about names that people have – but days also have names and I’m not talking about the boring old weekdays or the lovely weekend days either!

For instance, the 27th April is Freedom Day. It’s a public holiday and I’m sure you were all as glad as I was that we did not have to go to school or work on that day.

Some public holiday days are always the same – like Christmas, New Year and Woman’s Day. Easter moves around because it is defined as being the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox (in simple terms – that’s some moon event). Ramadan is the same – it also moves around.

Then you get other days that have been declared things like “World Wildlife Day” (3 March), “World Water Day” (22 March) or “World Malaria Day” (25 April) by the United Nations or some other body.  There are lots of these days. Just last week we had “Earth Day” (22 April) and we made my book on global warming – Sibo Makes a Difference – available on the website for people to freely read. It’s still there if you want to go and have a look.

On the 1st of May we have “Workers Day”. This is a public holiday in South Africa but not necessarily everywhere else in the world.

These days, if a public holiday falls on a Sunday – we get the Monday off. Yay!

There are also a number of other days in May but they are not public holidays. Things like “World Press Freedom Day” on the 3rd, “International Day of Families” on the 15th, “International Day of Biological Diversity” on the 22nd and “World No-Tobacco Day” on the 31st.

There are a lot of other day’s in-between too – but most of us would not easily relate to the topics. If you want to know when and what all the different days in the year are, you can visit this website – it lists them all in a really easy way with clickable links.

Of course the most important day to remember in May is Mother’s Day on the 8th. We all know that our moms are the most special people – no matter how old we are or they are. Make sure you spoil yours.

Happy Days!


World HIV AIDS Day

Face Book 13

On the 1st of December it is World HIV AIDS Day.

Hai Sibo! I hear you say. What does a little girl like you know about HIV AIDS?

It all started when I found out that my friend Lizzie’s brother is HIV positive. Strangely enough – because her brother is positive – a lot of people thought that it was bad to be friends with Lizzie.

What a lot of rubbish!

It’s okay to be friends with people who have family members who are HIV positive. It’s also okay to be friends with the people themselves who are HIV positive. In fact they really need friends – lots of them. It can be seriously depressing to find out that you have been diagnosed with such a thing and having all your friends run away from you is the last thing on earth that you need.

It’s terrible to think, in this day and age of social media, television, radio, cell phones and goodness knows what else – that people still think that they can get sick just by being in the same room as somebody who is HIV positive. Or by sitting on the same toilet, or using the same dishes. Or drinking from the same water fountain or using the same gym equipment. You can hug or kiss a person who is HIV positive and hold their hand too.

Sometimes when the person’s employer finds out that they are HIV positive they even go so far as to fire them – just when they need their medical aid and all the support that they can get.

You need to eat the right food – good nutritional stuff that builds up your body – no junk food. We shared our veggies with Lizzie’s family. It’s important to eat lots of fruit and veggies. But then it’s important for everybody to eat fruit and veggies – not just those who are HIV positive.

Okay – so Lizzie’s brother was stupid. He’d been doing drugs and got the virus from sharing a needle with somebody who was HIV positive. Doing drugs is wrong – we all know that. Not only using needles but sniffing, snorting, smoking – all that stuff is just silly. Plus it’s a waste of your good hard earned cash and it messes your life up so much more than you could ever imagine.

Visit my website and join our readathon on 1st December. You will be able to read Sibo Thinks Positively – free of charge. On your computer, cell phone, tablet or whatever!

Be nice people,


Some tips to help you study for the exams!

Sibo studying

If you are writing matric – then this is probably too late for you – but for the rest of us, it might help.

  • Do some exercise before you write you exam – according to scientists, exercise boosts brain and memory power. They reckon 20 minutes of exercise before you write your exam can help a lot – try hula hooping!
  • If you read something out loud (okay – don’t try this in the library where you are supposed to be quiet) you are 50% more likely to remember it, than if you read it quietly to yourself.
  • One of the best ways to make sure that you have learned and understood something – is to explain it to somebody else. Ask one of your parental agents, a sibling or a friend to hear you out.
  • Create mental connections – Steve Jobs famously said “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something”. Worth a try hey?
  • Draw diagrams to help you see the information. This creates a visual memory in your mind – which is easier to remember than just words.
  • Make yourself flash cards for a quick memory buzz. Then you can quickly test your knowledge of key concepts, definitions, quotes and formulas using these flashcards. You can look at them when you wake up in the morning – or while you eat your breakfast.
  • Take short study breaks. After 45-50 minutes – take a 10 minute break.  If you study for longer than this your focus is diminished.
  • Strangely or not – they recommend changing the places where you study. Don’t always sit at your desk or the dining room table. Sometimes you will learn more if you go and sit under a tree outside!
  • Do not stay up all night before an exam studying. Getting a good night’s sleep will reinforce all the stuff you have learnt during the day.
  • Study in a group. This can help you gain extra knowledge or insights.
  • Reward yourself for studying with a treat. For every so many pages you read (out loud) you can allocate yourself one smartie (because… you are becoming a smartie pants of course!).

Good luck in the exams!



Cool career of the week: chemistry teacher

A chemistry teacher can inspire students to explore chemistry by challenging them to create an effective, eco-friendly cleaning solution.