Alibaba, others headline launch of children’s books
• Publisher harps on literacy, cultural heritage
In a bid to totally eradicate illiteracy by 2030, inform young minds about Nigerian history and encourage family bonding, Clever Clogs Publishing has launched a book series to address these problems. Founder and Publisher, Clever Clogs Books, Olubunmi Aboderin, said the idea is to catch-them-young, infuse the right cultural values in children and also to stimulate healthy behaviour among family members.
It was also a clever move by the publisher to co-opt popular comedian and actor, Alibaba (real name Atuyota Akpobome) to be part of the launch as a way to draw the attention of young ones to the beauty of books. Titles of the books launched include Diary of a Toddler, Tobi Visits the Conservatory, Tobi Learns to Swim, Tobi Bakes the Cake, Tobi Visits the Gallery, and Why Do You Wash Your Hands?
“I don’t like what I read about our literacy rate,” the publisher, Aboderin, said. “Hence the need to improve our national literary rates whichever way possible. Reading has helped me develop my vocabulary and made me understand the world from different points of view. So, these books are my contribution to achieve 100 per cent literacy by 2030. They are for children at the elementary level to stimulate, encourage and attract them to read.
“It teaches children about time, hygiene, family bonding and brings our cultural heritage to the limelight. Our parents are doing well in teaching culture, but more is expected of them to teach our children holistically rather than being particular about one tribe.”
Aboderin noted that the niche-publishing house specialises in producing beautifully illustrated children’s books that feature Nigeria characters and relate with happenings in the environment.
On what inspired her writing, the publisher said reading bedtime story to her daughter at a tender age revealed to her that there were a few Nigerian picture books for children.
According to her, “I could only find a few African books in our stores while there were many western books, which sadly showcased their culture and, in a subtle way, promote racial discrimination. If we allowed our children to keep reading these, it would enhance the wrong mindset. Though the western world has the right to share their narrative, we also have to tell and share ours, too. I wanted stories that reflected what looks like us, and then I started writing, first for my daughter and later published for everyone.”
Aboderin noted that the main challenge she faced was how to distribute the book and getting the right illustrator who easily understands and brings out the beauty of the books that could capture children’s imagination.
As she put it, “I try to focus on what an ideal family should be like, that is, parents being a model of what their children should be. Tobi Visits the Conservatory shows activities you can do with the children and it reinforces strong family structure.
“The Tobi series features a good family, a supporting parent that encourages the child to be independent and responsible, and teaches children healthy behaviour. The series continues with Tobi Learns to Swim, Tobi Bakes the Cake and Tobi Visits the Gallery. Why Do You Wash Your Hands? is completed, but I want to get translators for different languages.
“Diary of a Toddler for kids between four to six years; it has colours and drawings that the child can relate with. Obedience to parents is the thrust for Kob the Antelope, which is written in stanzas like a poem for under eight and nine years. We would reach more people by having book tours, book readings in primary schools, and book clubs for children. We have partnered with book stores; we would ensure that we get the books across to everyone.”
While reviewing the Tobi Visits the Conservatory, popular comedian and actor, Alibaba (Atunyota Akpobome), said the book teaches time management, promotes mutual relationship between parent and their children and shows that parents have to be informed. Colours and proper illustrations are used by the author to present a model family.
Going to the conservatory tells about the longest canopy walk in Africa and teaches children to share and respect time.”
He also noted that parents should endeavor to give children the right foundation and encourage them to write in their local languages.
Proprietor and Director of Administration, Greenwood House School, Ekuah Abudu, said Diary of a Toddler can serve as a guide to young parents on what an ideal day for a child should look like. Also a reviewer, Abudu said there is strong emphasis on timing, a godly family, hygiene, and that it also allows a sense of responsibility for the child.
“The book is mentally stimulating,” she said. “It portrays every bit of the Nigerian culture, from the food to playtime and all that the child could do and, it can be used for different purposes. The book can be read for a whole week and the child will still get different experiences.”
While recommending the book to parent and schools, Abudu said there is a lot to explore on each page with conscious use of language and vocabulary, improved focus and mental engagement.