#ReadingAfrica Week 2021 – Younger Reader Reviews (UN SDG Book Club Africa)

It’s #ReadingAfrica Week and today, Olatoun Gabi-Williams shares some book reviews written by pupils aged between 7-12 at several Nigerian schools which are Ambassador Schools for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Book Club Africa. The three books they’ve reviewed relate to SDG 3 (Good Health & Wellbeing) and SDG 4 (Quality Education). In her introduction to the books selected, Gabi-Williams explains some of the challenges in the distribution of the recommended books, and the need for greater digitization…

By Olatoun Gabi-Williams

Working in 4 main languages of Africa – Kiswahili, English, French and Arabic – in addition to choosing an honorary book in an indigenous African language every 2 months, the UN SDG Book Club Africa seeks to identify good and colourful books for children ages 6-12 years, which engage the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals in fresh and readable ways. These global goals cut across social, economic and environmental justice and are anchored in 5 pillars: planet, people, peace, progress, partnerships.

From a total of 20 books available on our SDG 1 – 4 English reading lists, seeing only 3 books chosen by our Ambassador School children testifies to the difficulties schools have experienced accessing our books. Since the book club was inaugurated on April 23rd 2021 (World Book & Copyright Day), we keep stressing to publishers that if they want their books in the hands of school children, digitization must take place as a matter of urgency. 

Alternatively, publishers can sign up with online distribution platforms. Some, like African Books Collective (ABC), which operates the print-on-demand model, are very well-known and serve the African book industry well, making books published on the African continent readily available across the globe. 

Rwanda is Africa’s phoenix rising from the ashes. Having Kariza’s Handcraft by Cesar Hatangimana on the children’s list of recommended reads is heartening. More so because books from Nigeria and Ghana tend to dominate our English language reading lists which showcase a maximum of 5 titles each. Cesar Hatangimana’s story elevates the value of artisanal work/handicraft, thereby underlining the importance of technical education, a particular emphasis of SDG 4 which promotes inclusive and equitable quality education and life-long learning opportunities for all. 

That two out of three titles should be dedicated to Good Health & Wellbeing [SDG 3], is obviously influenced by what we are faced with in these strange times: the power of an infectious disease to hold the whole world hostage. In the 1980s, it was HIV/AIDS. Today, it is the deadly Covid-19 with its variants. Even if HIV/AIDS is no longer a newspaper headline like Covid-19 is, it remains very much with us behind the scenes. No-one, not even the youngest children should be left out of the life-saving knowledge sharing process to which these two Nigerian books, Nursery Corona Tales and AIDS: The Wicked Disease contribute. 

Young readers’ reviews

Title: Kariza’s Handcraft
Author: Cesar Hatangimana
Publisher: The Peak Publishing House (Rwanda)

The book is very child-friendly and educational. The story aims to reach to the depths of the minds of children, challenging them and helping them to understand that they can truly have the best of both worlds with regard to pursuing academics and their dreams in life, whatever they are.

Reviewed by: Oluwafikayomi, age 9 , Chrisland School, Abuja


Title: AIDS: The Wicked Disease
Author: S.T Bajah et.al
Publisher: Early Learning Science Series for Africa

The book which is a drama piece educates and enlightens children about HIV/AIDS and the dangers of contracting the disease. It is pictorial which makes it attractive to children and the words are simple to understand. It can be recommended for upper primary school pupils.

Reviewed by: Chidera, Benita and Stephanie, age 11, Chrisland School, Festac Area, Lagos

I recommend a lot of people to read this book because people need to know how to prevent AIDS and HIV so that they can live a healthy and full good life. The book also shows ways that AIDS cannot be gotten. It is a really good book.

Reviewed by: Ayokunle, age 8, Beehive School, Lagos

The book with the beautiful colourful cover page is all about a deadly disease known as AIDS, what it means, how it can be got and things one does that cannot make one to get it. This book is a wonderful book, easy to read with lots of helpful tips about HIV/AIDS.

Reviewed by: Chigemezu and Oyinkansola, age 11, Chrisland School, Festac Area, Lagos

It is a wonderful play that tells us about AIDS. It is an extraordinary disease. It defeats your immune system and makes you vulnerable to other diseases like diarrhea, pneumonia, etc. This book is explained in detail in 34 simple pages and that makes it easy to comprehend. 

Reviewed by: Justin, age 9, Chrisland School, Victoria Garden City

Title: Nursery Corona Tales
Author: Wale Okediran
Publisher: Rasmed Publications Limited

The book creates an awareness about the pandemic that has made everyone to keep wearing masks. It is a good book that teaches one what to do to avoid being infected. I learnt you must always wear your mask, you should not hug people and you shouldn’t shake hands. I further learnt that you must keep two metres from someone and not sit too close to anyone.

Reviewed by: Aghogho, age 8, Chrisland School, Opebi, Lagos

The book is a good book. I like it because of the many pictures and because it is easy to read and understand. I recommend the book because it teaches me not to go close to someone coughing or sneezing or else I will get the virus. I also learnt that we should not hug people and we should keep washing our hands when we get home.

Reviewed by: Zion, age 7, Chrisland School Opebi, Lagos

The Nursery Corona Tales is a fun and wonderful book that teaches about the dangers of corona virus and how to prevent it. It also has great illustration for early readers to understand. The activities in the book are also very good.

Reviewed by: Adeola, age 8, Beehive School, Lagos

This book is about a new virus in town known as Corona Virus, it is everywhere and it has no cure for now. However, it can be prevented by frequent hand washing, keeping enough distance between people, and so on. All this will keep the virus at bay.

Reviewed by: Alfa David and Moyinoluwa, ages 10 and 11, Chrisland School, Festac Area, Lagos

The book is informative as it informs its readers about the dangers of contracting Corona virus. It is a book of nursery rhymes. It is full of colourful pictures which drives home the message of the book. The words used by the poet are easy to memorize and can be recommended for lower nursery pupils.

Reviewed by: Kamsiyochukwu, Vanessa and Chiamaka, ages 11 and 12, Chrisland School, Festac Area, Lagos

Nursery Corona Tales is a well written book that x-rays Coronavirus as a malignant disease which has no cure, using simple story telling technique as well as illustrations. It teaches us some safety measures to keep ourselves safe from COVID-19. It even has some songs to help us understand the book better and I must say that the story in this book is told in 52 pages which can be read in one sitting.  

Review by: Kemasirichi, age 9, Chrisland School, Victoria Garden City

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Thank you everyone for these fabulous book reviews! We’re always keen to publish world literature book reviews by younger readers, such as these here. Teachers, please do get in touch via email (worldkidlit@gmail.com) if your pupils would like to share their book reviews on the blog.

Read more about the Africa Chapter of the UN SDG Book Club in Olatoun’s earlier post at World Kid Lit here.

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Olatoun Gabi-Williams is the founder of Borders Literature for all Nations. With UN Namibia and five pan-African book industry bodies, Borders is a joint-organizer of the African Chapter of the Sustainable Development Goals Book Club. The five organizers are: African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA), Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), African Publishers Network (APNET), Pan-African Writers Association (PAWA), Pan-African Booksellers Association (PABA). Since 2015, a book industry publicist and journalist, Olatoun serves as the SDG Book Club’s publicist and as Advisor for the Ambassador Schools Program. Borders is a joint-venture of Selina Travels, an IATA licensed travel agency based in Nigeria which she owns, and Sponsor A Child Nigeria, a non-profit she founded in 2003. SAC promotes rights-based child welfare and child education in Nigerian institutions. Read more about her here.