British multinational confectionery maker Cadbury has unveiled a digital children’s books library as part of its social mission to inspire more generosity in the world by promoting a reading culture among African children through the creation of books that reflect their realities.
In a new campaign named #InOurOwnWords authors from across the continent have joined hands, producing 30 stories that have been published in Swahili, English, and French languages.
The campaign also marks the first phase of a long-term initiative dubbed Read To Succeed, that aims to ignite a love for reading among African children by creating the continent’s first user-generated library of enchanting children’s stories in an African context.
To achieve this, Cadbury, in partnership with a publishing partner, Sisi Afrika, aims to publish 150 original storybooks working through the generous intent of Africans to help, by sharing their original African tales which will then be turned into books children can fall in love with.
A recent poll by Mondelez International, Cadbury East Africa’s holding company indicated that African parents struggle to find content that is reflective of their children’s realities.
According to the poll, two out of three parents of the children surveyed in Kenya said that the continent was not truthfully represented in the available children’s books, despite Africa being known as a continent of storytellers.
Ms Lorna Kamemba, Category Brand Manager Chocolates CEA Mondelez International said “We want to empower our children to succeed through promoting a culture of reading. Through this launch, we are demonstrating our commitment to generosity and a genuine desire to improve lives by spearheading the publication of children’s books that are reflective of their realities.”
She added that “We hope that the stories we have unveiled today will inspire more authors to generously submit more content as we launch a new phase of this campaign, resulting in an even bigger library of stories specifically curated for Kenyan and African children.”
Award-winning author, Ngángá Mbugua, who has published several children’s books believes that a love for reading is sparked when children can see themselves in stories they read and relate them to their lives.
“The stories we unveil today are very culturally relevant to our children because they can easily see themselves in the stories. We need to be intentional in producing stories with characters our children can easily relate to if we are to entrench a reading culture in Kenya.”
Richard Oduor Oduku, CEO of Sisi Afrika notes that “it is encouraging to see African writers, publishers and corporates teaming up to increase the number of books available for children that reflect their day-to-day lives. It is through reading that we can be able to inspire imagination and creativity among children. Cadbury’s Read to Succeed campaign is laudable and will increase access to relatable, modern, and enjoyable storybooks for Kenyan children.”
Of the 30 books already published, three are in Swahili, five in French and twenty-two in English. The books can be directly accessed through the microsite: https://www.cadbury.africa/ourownwords/our-library/or by scanning QR codes available on Cadbury Dairy Milk packets.
At the same time, Cadbury has also announced a call for submission for stories for the second phase of the campaign that will see the addition of another 30 books to the library. To participate, one needs to buy any of the Cadbury story edition packs, scan the QR codes and visit the website to generously share their homegrown stories.