Meet South Africa’s Youngest Author - 7-Year-Old Mikayla Schmidt!
Photo Cred: Teneo Online School

Meet Mikayla Schmidt, a Grade 2 student who has just become South Africa’s youngest author!


Johannesburg, South Africa (27 June 2022) – Mikayla Schmidt, a Grade 2 student at Teneo Online School, is South Africa’s youngest author. Schmidt published her book, Harvest Day, just before her 7th birthday in 2021 and was later recognised at the 4th The AfriCAN Honoree Authors’ Awards which celebrates and encourages African literacy.  

Mikayla (now 8) is a bookworm by nature and loves learning, but everything about this book happened by chance.  

How it started

Mikayla’s mother took her to the monthly Urban Farmer’s market, where a woman named Barbara Lawrence-Strydom was harvesting organic vegetables in a greenhouse.

“Mikayla’s always been interested in growing vegetables and offered to help,” says Annie Schmidt, Mikayla’s mother. 

Seeing how passionate Mikayla was, Barbara challenged her to write a book about them. It turns out that Barbara was involved in the AfriCAN Child Your Time is Now organisation which hopes to birth 1 million children authors on the African continent.   

“As soon as we got home, Mikayla immediately started drawing and planning her book, and we had fun turning the vegetables into characters,” continues Schmidt.  

The following day the family returned to the greenhouse, where Mikayla handed Barbara the 10-page, handmade and paper-folded book, which “blew her away”, and two months later, she let the family know that a publisher was interested in it. 

“I liked writing about each vegetable and turning them into cartoon characters. My favourite one is the dancing avocado,” says Mikayla. 

Encouraging the pursuit of passions

Mikayla’s parents believe that children are at their most creative when they are younger, so it’s important to nurture this and encourage them to pursue their passions. Mikayla comes from an active family and loves to swim, dance and is a three-time karate champion. Finding a structured, real school that still offers flexibility was really important to the family as it provides her with the time and creative space to be adventurous outside of school – like with her book. 

Mikayla’s older relative has been a Teneo student for five years, so the family had first-hand knowledge that Teneo is a real school, simply online. Her favourite subjects are maths and, unsurprisingly, language. If she’s not playing sports or being sociable, you’ll find Mikayla reading in her spare time (she has over 200 books in her room).  

“Both Mikayla’s vocabulary and general knowledge are exceptional for her age, and reading has certainly played a big role in her development,” says Tammy Ferrier, her Grade 2 IEB teacher.   

When asked if she plans to release any more books in future, Mikayla says we’ll have to wait and see.

“Right now, I’m just enjoying reading books, but I am very proud of my achievement,” she says.

Meet South Africa’s Youngest Author - 7-Year-Old Mikayla Schmidt!
Photo Cred: Teneo Online School

Sources: AfriCAN Child Your Time is Now
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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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