In the weeks before schools begin their next term it is important for us to look at books that children will benefit immensely from. As for us at the annual weeklong children’s summer writing boot camp starting on Monday 20th August at Shehu Musa Yar’adua centre, we are roaring to go with books that will enliven our children and resource persons that inspire them. I have always believed that if you are not reading enough, you cannot get the right words to write well. It is also critical that parents encourage their children to read, it makes them better writers and keeps them focused while gaining lots of information for managing their lives ahead and doing well academically. A child who is a bookworm and enjoys hanging out in libraries will ultimately do better than their peers. As we prepare our children for the 11th edition of the summer writing boot camp and as children all prepare to return to school, it is fitting to bring up books that help children who like to read do better. Here are our recommendations. Enjoy!
1) Don’t let the pigeon ride the Bus by Mo Willems. This is a picture book for children and it is as exciting as they come. So the bus driver tells one of his little passengers that he has to be somewhere and leaves the Bus in his care. He warns that while he is gone, under no circumstance should the pigeon be allowed to drive the bus. Once he leaves we hear the pigeon’s narrative begging, pleading and bribing to drive the bus. But the little minder refuses until the bus driver returns. Hilarious, fun and ingenious. Imagination drives the story and the children will be sold.
2) Alkassim Abdulkadir’s Dauda and the Cockerel is a favorite with our participants at our writing bootcamp and the author has been our resource person more than twice. Amusing, focused and dedicated to children, Alkassim keeps them all glued to him as he reads his little fun book which brings in many value lessons for the children.
3) Chike and the River by Chinua Achebe. This book is a classic featuring 11-year protagonist Chike who wants to cross the Niger River to the city of Asaba but has no money to do so. Watching all the ferries crossing makes him even more keen to go. As it so happens a friend of his takes him on adventure to raise the money including meeting up with a magician who says he can double Chike’s money. In the end he manages to raise the money and makes it to Asaba. He finds it is exciting but quite different from his hometown and yearns for home.
4) I am Malala by Malala Yousufzai and Christina Lamb is an autobiographical story of Malala’s love for education which earned a shooting by the Taliban. She was lucky to have survived her gunshot wounds and went on to become a Nobel peace Laureate. A person of great courage at her age, this is a book for children of all ages. It will not only help them to value education more but will remind some of how privileged they are to be going to school in a place of safety. At our writing boot camp, children are encouraged to understand the importance of their privileges by taking them to orphanage homes where they are encouraged to adopt a child by proxy.
5) Reading like a writer by Francine Prose is an important book for anyone who enjoys reading and writing. It is more suited to children between the ages of fourteen and fifteen years of age. This is a seminal book for all those who wish to write well. Here are some quotes from the book for your perusal. “Do not lose sight of the fact that words are the raw materials out of which literature is crafted.” “Being a good writer depends on the skill and capability of choosing the right words.” “Word choices make a huge difference in the significance of a sentence.” This book, trust me is one of my favorite books. Get one for the readers and writers in your home, read one yourself. The reward is instant. Amazing Book.