Wednesday, December 17, 2008


How is it possible that six children with five different faiths become friends and share their life experience in peace and harmony? Author Rukhsana Khan respond to this important question through her last book for young readers Many Windows published by Napoleon and co-written with authors Uma Krishnaswami and Elisa Carbone. The story introduces us to six linked stories of six kids who share a classroom, a teacher and a love of basketball. TJ, Natalie, Jameel, Deepa, Benjamin and Stephanie, each comes from a different faith, but in sharing their stories, they open windows into their world. What is really remarkable of this book is that each child's faith instead of being a barrier in social relationship and understanding becomes an open window on their interesting and different cultures promoting friendship, sharing and tolerance.

KABILIANA - When did you start knowing that you wanted to tell/write stories?
RUKHSANA - When I was about 13 I had a teacher who told me I should be a writer. I had never even considered it up till then, but after that I began to dream about it.

KABILIANA - How was your childhood? Did you use to read books? Which were your favorites?
RUKHSANA -My childhood was lonely and isolated. I grew up in a small town with few friends. We were the only Pakistani Muslim family in town. I loved books! I liked all kinds of books from picture books like Ping, to Nancy Drew mysteries and then historical fiction like Geoffrey Trease and Maia Wojcheschowska to action adventure and fantasy like Tolkien. I also loved the classics like Charlotte Bronte and Mark Twain and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

KABILIANA - Did you grow in a family where somebodye was telling you stories?
RUKHSANA- My father is a storyteller, although he doesn’t do so professionally. He also read to us every night from the Quran (our holy book).

KABILIANA - How did you think about writing a book whith characters of different faiths like those of Many Windows?
RUKHSANA - This was actually Elisa Carbone’s idea to write a set of stories about kids from different faiths who were friends, like the three of us.

KABILIANA - How did you involve Uma Krishnaswami and Elisa Carbone?
RUKHSANA - Uma and Elisa were on board with the project from the very beginning. It was originally going to be a much more balanced piece with each of us writing two stories. We each wrote one story of our respective religious celebrations and shopped the project around but got no interest. Then when I approached Napoleon, she agreed to publish it but being Canadian and relying on Canadian grants, she needed me to write 80% of the book because I was the only Canadian on the panel, so I took charge of the project.

KABILIANA - You are from Pakistan and raised in Canada where you currently live, how did you grow in a non muslim country? Did your faith ever caused you difficulties in friend's or other social relationships or as a writer?
RUKHSANA - Yes, many times my faith seemed like an obstacle. In fact when I wanted to become a published author I had family members tell me I’d never make it because of the way I dressed. I’ve often felt that it has closed some doors for me. And yet in other ways people have been able to see past the superficial differences and accept my stories too.

KABILIANA - Nowadays we live in multicultural societies where children of different cultures meet and attend the same school. What do you think about those countries where religion (we intend the main religion of that country for expamle Catholicism in Italy) is taught at school?
RUKHSANA -I grew up during a time when Bible stories were taught and Christmas was established as the ‘norm’. I know the feelings of alienation and imposition that some kids feel as a result of this. But we were always taught to respect them and yet maintain our own faith. I think religion can be taught in schools as long as it’s taught in a respectful but not imposing kind of way. Where children who don’t share the same religious values are not looked down upon for being different. That didn’t happen when I was growing up. I was often looked down upon for not eating pork and for having different values even though when I was very young I didn’t dress that differently. I think it’s right that schools try to accommodate the religious practices of their students of all faiths.

KABILIANA - How did your children, differently from you, live their cultural heritage in a foreign country? How is Canada nowadays in terms of understanding, tolerance and confrontation among different culturess?
RUKHSANA - All three of my daughters are grown and have decided to not only wear the Islamic head scarf but also cover their faces. They did this of course as a result of their own choice. They are even more strict in some ways, in terms of religious observance, than I am. I think Canada is pretty understanding and tolerant. I have travelled all across the country and seldom felt any sort of confrontation from other people. People tend to be very warm and friendly, although my daughters with the way they dress find it much less accommodating.

KABILIANA - Rukshana how in daily life faith can become a bridge of connection instead of being a barrier in human understanding and tolerance?
RUKHSANA -That’s easy. Most of the religions share similar values. Generosity, hospitality, honesty, etc. If people apply their religious principles in dealing with others, respect them, treating them as they would want to be treated, it’s really not very hard to get along at all. I constantly remind myself that God has given everyone freedom of choice, and He is the ultimate judge, and we will all return to Him. All I need to do is live my life to the best of my ability.

KABILIANA - In many countries around the world still millions of children don't have access to books, in some other countries fundamentalists regimes don't allow female to attend school... what can a writer do to encourage and promote literacy in those difficult realities?
RUKHSANA -I don’t think there’s much other people from other cultures can do to change literacy among females in other cultures. What needs to be done is for people from that culture to make the change. For example, the approach I would use in dealing with Muslims who don’t want to allow their girls to be educated is bring forward the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from religious scriptures and show how this is not part of our faith. Show that all Muslims, including girls, are encouraged to become educated, and point out the historical fact that many early Muslim women were scholars of the faith, so education is encouraged.

KABILIANA - If you would have raised in Pakistan do you think you would have become a writer as well?
RUKHSANA -I doubt very much that I would have been a writer in Pakistan. My extended family circumstances are not very ‘literary’. They’re mostly tradesmen. That’s one of the reasons my father took us away from Pakistan, so he could explore educational opportunities for us in Canada.

KABILIANA - In your writings, Islam seems to be your wallpaper, how is it possible to write about universal values through a specific background without influencing the reader or without imposing the reader a specific point of view?
RUKHSANA - It hasn’t been hard at all. In writing about Muslim characters I recall my own feelings of being Muslim. Being Muslim is something I take for granted, and then I write the story, tell the story within that parameter and I often try to use aspects of being Muslim to create a bit of humour or suspense. For example, with my book Muslim Child (also published by Napoleon) when writing about the prayer I wrote about a boy who has to fart during the prayer. That’s a big deal because before we pray we have to make an ablution and if we fart or go the bathroom, it nullifies the ablution and we have to go back and wash again. So in the middle of his prayer this boy has to fart but he doesn’t want to wash up and pray again so he just squeezes and hopes nothing slips out. It’s very funny. Any kid can relate to such a dilemma, so I accomplish two tasks. I educate the reader about a major aspect of Islam and I tell a funny story at the same time. I’m not imposing anything. I’m just relating this child’s circumstances.

KABILIANA - What will you suggest to who is thinking to get involved in children's writing?
RUKHSANA -I would tell anyone thinking of being a children’s author that in some ways perseverance is more important than talent. When I was beginning there were other authors who were better than I was, but they couldn’t take the rejection. I outlasted them and now I have almost eleven books published. But after a while, talent is what separates your work from the mundane, so don’t forget to keep trying new things and working at your craft.

KABILIANA - Can you tell us at least three illustrated books or children's stories you liked in the last year?
RUKHSANA - Oh I’ve read so many, it’s hard. I really liked Mo Willem’s “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”, Christopher Paul Curtis' Elijah of Buxton, and The Tale of Despereaux. By Kate di Camillo.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Living Between Cultures

This week our special guest is author Mitali Perkins who talked about her writing life and her last novel Rickshaw Girl published by Charlesbridge. Mitali attracts our attention to important issues related to life between cultures. Born in Kolkata from a Bengali family and raised in New York since she was seven, Mitali used to borrow books from the local library every week spending her time reading and reading, feeding her fantasy and creativity. At eleven she moved to California with her family and that time she was the only kid at school not born in America and the only kid who was not "white". This background inspired Mitali's writing life, her books explore and focus on the "strange place" called life between cultures.
We love her vision of stories saving lives... Mitali says that "stories have a mysterious power to help us process hard experiences and believes that "giving your kids stories, sitting side by side with them , reading them stories sometimes is a lot more effective than a face to face conversation." We believe in these words. Thank's Mitali for sharing with us.

KABILIANA - Mitali, you were born in Kolkata and raised since the age of six in the USA. What did it mean to you living in a different place from yours?
MITALI - I have learned how to make myself at home in many places, but sometimes, on harder days, no place feels like home.

KABILIANA - What did you family do to maintain your original traditions and culture alive far from home? Did they leave you a strong Bengali cultural heritage?
MITALI - Yes, we were a very traditional household, and my parents brought Bengali art, music, dance, and poetry into our home.

KABILIANA - Can you choose five adjectives to define your childhood far from India?
MITALI - Lonely, creative, rootless, inventive, private

KABILIANA - How did you start writing? And why did you chose to write for children and young readers?
Because I was lonely, I started writing as a child. And because I started writing as a child, and books helped me so much in this strange new world, I decided to write for young readers.

KABILIANA - You have a blog “Mitali’S Fire Escape”. It’s a virtual place where you discuss on multiculturalism and related issues. This name suggests that “ discussing, confronting each other, dialoguing means avoiding ignorance, misunderstanding” , is that what you intended for this space?
MITALI - I see my blog as a safe place where anyone, teens and adults alike, is welcome to chat about cultures and books and writing. It’s not a place to run away, it’s stepping out of the heat for a bit to sit and reflect and learn through good conversation and congenial company.

KABILIANA - Many migrants face big difficulties in living in a new place, job, housing, schooling etc… As identity is a process of metamorphosis, how is it possible according to your experience to create a connection between one’s original culture and the new adoptive one, dealing with daily practical issues?
MITALI - Children can creatively fuse cultures when they have a community of people nearby who are also living between cultures, and also by expanding their imagination through stories. Traveling to the culture of origin, if possible, can be a big help, as are connections with grandparents and other members of the child’s extended family.

KABILIANA - You have written several books for young readers, let’s talk about Rickshaw Girl. What inspired you setting a story in small traditional village in Bangladesh?
MITALI - My parents grew up in Bangladeshi villages.

KABILIANA - Naima, the main character, is a 12 years girl living in a traditional Bengali village with her family. She is the best alpana's painter in her village and wants to use her artistic talent to help earn money for her family. Her father is a rickshaw driver and is getting sick and tired, she wonder if she was a boy she could have helped her father. She believe she can do something, she doesn’t know how but her faith in her talent will make her succeed in her purpose. Naima it’s a strong, ambitious girl and the beginner of a new change in her family . Does this story represents what is really happening in countries like Bangladesh or India? What are the main big changes in this direction?
MITALI - Yes! This is beginning to happen in Bangladesh and India, starting in the cities in India, and in the villages of Bangladesh, thanks to organizations like Grameen.

KABILIANA - Your novel introduces us to another important theme: microfinance. We remind our readers that the founder of Microfinance , Muhammad Yunus, was awarded the Nobel Prize. From your report at the end of the book and general statistics, microfinance has more success with women in developing with success their socio economical status. How do you explain this success?
MITALI - Generally, when women earn money they are more likely to invest it into the household for the children’s sake. Also, if a woman is educated, it is more likely that her children will be educated.
KABILIANA - You frequently meet children in schools and libraries. What are their most frequent questions about diversity, living between cultures, understanding the other?
MITALI - Children are quite open to learning about different cultures. They really connect to the feeling of not fitting in — that’s what they tend to focus on. And when they get a bit older, they ask about dating and marriage since I grew up in a really strict, traditional home.

KABILIANA - What would you say to parents of mixed culture's kids and teachers to encourage their children to build a solid identity made of their full multicultural background?
MITALI - Travel if you can afford it. Invite friends in your home from many cultures. AND READ THEM STORIES!
KABILIANA - Can you list some children’s books you read in the last year you enjoyed?
MITALI - "North of Beautiful"by Justina Chen Headley (YA novel), "Amadi's Snowman" by Katia Novet Saint-Lot (picture book), "Lady Liberty"by Doreen Rappaport and Matt Tavares (nonfiction story of the Statue of Liberty, which was built by many immigrants).

KABILIANA- As a writer what would you say to a beginner writer who means to write about diversity? What to avoid and what to deepen in order to break common stereotypes?
MITALI - I would send them to browse around my blog, and to these posts in particular: “Straight Talk on Writing Race” and “Six Critical Questions To Ask About A Story”.

Mitali's new novel Secret Keeper will be issued on January by Random House .

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dedicated to all the children in world, especially those who still don't have access to books

It has been already a month since I interviewed Katia Novet Saint Lot on her Amadi's Snowman , recently on virtual tour, is going to be the main character of a whole afternoon dedicated to all the children in the world, especially those who still don't have access to books.
During the "Afternoon with Amadi" , Amadi and Mama Katia together with Mama Dimitrea and her beautiful drawings.... will take the children directly to Nigeria, exploring through a hand made Tree Book all the main curiosities about this country and its culture.
The afternoon will be divided in three different moments:

Reading of Amadi's Snowman/Exploring Amadi's world
Discussion about reading and the right of sharing knowledge
Drawing and Writing to remember the experience

The best venue we could find is a Bookstore.Yes we'll be surrounded by books ad what a lovely place to talk about reading and books....! Thank's to Giunti al Punto Bookstore who wanted to guest this event.
The meeting is included in the campaign "Un libro per un bambino / One book for one child promoted by Kabiliana, to share awareness about children who don't have access to books and education.

W H E R E & W H E N ?

GIOVEDI' /THURSDAY 11 Dicembre 2008
Lerici - Via Roma 49
16.30- 19.00

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Power of Reading

As I said in my latest post here the fist interview to a children's author and illustrator. The guests of this first Writing Room are author Katia Novet Saint-Lot and illustrator Dimitrea Tokunbo who will introduce their "Amadi's Snowman". Amadi share with us the wonderful and mysterious world of books. His initial scepticism, his doubts on the importance of reading will turn into the most exciting discover of every child, learning the sounds of words and their meaning.When I first read this book to my daughters they were really partecipating at Amadi's journey through the awareness that reading can take you far and I'm sure many children will recognise themselves in Amadis' great adventure.

KABILIANA - Katia, you've lived in Nigeria for quiet some time and now you are living in India since 4 years, why did Amadi's story came out only now?
KATIA - The publishing process is long, and arduous, as you probably know. It also depends on so many things. I've heard editors at conferences or in interviews say that they sometimes have to reject a book that they would have loved publishing, for financial reasons, because the marketing department rejected it, etc, etc. The editor at Tilbury, Audrey Maynard, loved the story when I first sent it, but it was at the beginning of the war in Iraq, and school library budgets had been drastically cut, and she had to reject it. She sent me an email two years later, asking if the story was still available. I had made quite a few changes in the meantime, and they liked them. And then, there is the whole illustration process, and that takes quite a while, as well. And then the printing, etc. It takes time to publish a picture book.
KABILIANA- Would have Amadi been written if you didn't have the chance to live in Nigeria?
KATIA - Absolutely not. The story was born within a certain context, and even though Amadi's experience has a universal feeling to it, and children all over the world can relate to it, it could only have been born in Igbo Land.
KABILIANA - What is your relationship and feeling with the African Continent?
KATIA - This is a difficult question. I strongly resist discussing the continent as a whole. First, I don't know that many countries in Africa. I have lived in Nigeria, and I have visited Benin and The Ivory Coast, and that's it. I'm familiar with several cultures of West Africa, because I have friends who are from Senegal, Mali, Cameroon, etc. I also did a lot of Senegalese dancing when I lived in New York. It's called Sabar, and I used to take 4 to 5 classes a week. That's how much I loved it. But I don't know East Africa, nor the south of the continent. People who know Africa quite well always say that they're very different.
KABILIANA - In which way literacy can help economically disadvantaged population to change their life/future?
KATIA - Education is key. It's not only a matter of knowing more, it's also that an educated people can better defend themselves, against abuse, ignorance, superstition, and so much more.
Amadi has also a multicultural view as it introduces to Nigeria and a small village's life.
KABILIANA - How /When does diversity becomes a value when different people confront each other?
KATIA - Exposure to diversity opens up the world and the mind. If you experience others' ways of living, whether directly or through books, it becomes easier to realize that there is not one way of doing things, but millions of them, and your horizons broaden. My children have lived in Nigeria and India, they know life in France, the US, Spain and Haiti, and they take it all in stride. In India, people eat with their right hand, sitting on the floor. Fine. In France, or I should say the western world, we eat with a fork and a knife. That's not halfway as much fun as eating with one hand, but Oh well, if that's the way it's done. They understand that languages change from one place to another. They also understand that customs change from one place to the other. In India, Ganesh, Durga, Diwali, etc, are celebrated. In France, they'll go to the baptism of a cousin. They have been in churches, temples, mosques, and they understand that people worship in diverse ways, and none is better than the other. The risk that these children grow up to be narrow-minded and convinced that there is only one way to speak, eat, dress, act, worship, and/or think, is really quite unlikely. Tolerance is a component of their psyche. And the world certainly needs more tolerance.

KABILIANA - You have started presenting the book in Indian Schools, what was your first impression meeting directly the students? What do they like most reading and what do they ask you when you share Amadi's message with them?
KATIA - Children love Amadi because he's so real. He's nto perfect, but he's smart, and he grows throughout the story, and the ending is satisfying. A lot of them, here, also seem to relate to the fact that he has never seen snow.
KABILIANA - As a mother and a writer how would you propose a book to somebody who is not interested in reading? What will you suggest him/her or which kind of approach will you think to stimulate him/her?
KATIA -I find it very hard to believe that a child would be totally opposed and allergic to books. So, it's really a matter of offering the kind of material that will stimulate them, and catch their attention, exactly like Amadi in the story. He won't hear about learning how to read, but as soon as his curiosity is peeked, that's it, he's caught.
KABILIANA- We writers all know that without reading we would never be able to write… how much do you read children's literature and how do you choose what to read in this field?
KATIA -I read constantly. And my tastes and interests influence what I choose to read, of course. Anything multicultural is likely to interest me. I also keep informed, see what comes out, what my friends read and recommend, etc, etc.
KABILIANA - Can you give us three titles of the three children's books you ever loved in the last year?
KATIA - "Henry's Freedom Box," by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. It's the story of Henry "Box" Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom. It's a story of amazing bravery, and Kadir Nelson's illustrations are absolutely stunning.
"Burn My Heart" by Beverly Naidoo, about the uneasy friendship of two boys, one white, one black, in colonial Kenya. It's about hard choices and children being caught in political turmoil and the kind of frightening mess that adults are so good at creating.
"Amazing Grace" by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch. I only discovered this book, and others in the series, recently. They are wonderful. Grace is an energetic, confident, imaginative child, and a perfect role model for any girl.
KABILIANA - Officialy from today Amadi is on a World Virtual Tour. Would you like to explain how does it work and who will involve?
KATIA - The idea is to engage children from several countries around the world in a conversation about reading, books, and each other. As I've mentioned before, kids are not encumbered by the many prejudices that adults carry around - unless they've already been influenced by those adults, of course. They are naturally interested and curious about other children. Having lived in many places, and having also contacts in quite a few, I thought it would be fun to virtually visit schools, libraries, etc. We'll see children in Nigeria, in the US, in India, in Italy (thanks to you), and maybe in Ethiopia and in Haiti (we're still working out the logistics, but it's looking good.) There will be interviews, conversations about the process of writing, and reviews on blogs dedicated to children's literature. We'll have some video clips, quizzes and trivia, and a photo challenge, and there will be prizes at the end. I didn't realize, as I embarked on this adventure, that it would entail so much work, but it's been great fun, and I made some wonderful contacts all over the world. What I want, aside from trying to get the book out there as much as possible, is for children to have fun, to learn about each other, and to acquire or renew their conviction that reading is THE thing to do.

KABILIANA- What inspired you to become a children’s book illustrator?
DIMITREA -I think my mom was my first inspiration to become an illustrator. She encouraged me to draw from the time I could hold a crayon, she would ask me what story went with my picture and then she would write it on my drawing word for word. Looking back at some of the drawings she saved from before I was two are pretty funny. Anyway, she taught me to associated words and pictures as a team, which is what children’s picture books often do.
KABILIANA - Which emotions inspires you when you have to transform words in pictures?
DIMITREA -I think emotions are broadcasted from our faces. I’ve always been interested in drawing faces. Happiness, Anger, Curiosity, Fear are a few emotions that are very clear expressions to paint and draw. I also think that color conveys an emotional state and I absolutely love to play with color.
KABILIANA - Dimitrea you are from Nigeria and living in the Us. How does your african background feeds your American Life and viceversa, how does the mutlicultursl US society enrich your being African?
DIMITREA - My father was born in Nigeria and my Mother was born in the US. I was born in the US. My last name Tokunbo is actually my middle name and I had it legally changed a few years back because it means Born Away from Home which I feel speaks to that part of me that longs to no more about Africa and Nigeria specially. My daughters and I are going to Nigeria soon and they are very excited to be visiting for the first time. Sometimes I feel isolated by my differences to the two sides of my family but most times I feel luck and blessed because I feel it broadens my experiences and gives me more things to love.
KABILIANA- I know Amadi in travelling far also in Africa, did you have the chance to notice any difference in the perception of the story with African children and Us ones?
DIMITREA - That is an interesting question, I have only read it to American children so far and I look forward to sharing it with my Nigerian cousins soon. I will have to revistit the is question later.
KABILIANA- Amadi’s illustrations looks so captivating, they have essential shapes and the colours are wonderfully warm and deep. It seems that the colour was much more important then anything in this book.Isn’t it? Can you also tell us the tecnique and how do you choose your style every time.
DIMITREA - You are very right about the importance of the color in this book. One of the things that struck me during my visits to Nigeria was the vibrancy of the color. From the fabrics to the landscape to the baskets and wood carvings, I felt a warmth and energy. I was really hoping to give that same feeling to the readers of Amadi’s Snowman.
KABILIANA - According to you what children and parents, same or differently, look for in an illustrated book?
DIMITREA - Hmmm…according to me, I think children look for repletion of sounds and a musical quality to the narrative. I also think children like to see children that look like themselves and people they know. I think parents are concerned with teaching opportunities books can provide. They want the books to influence good behavior but they also want the books to feel fun, since most kids I know want to hear their favorite books over and over again. I think both children and parents are attracted to beautiful paintings whether they are soothing, scary or funny.
KABILIANA - How did it happen that you were asked to illustrate Katia’s Book?
DIMITREA - I think the publisher was looking for diverse artists and they found work I had done for another publisher that create great multicultural titles.
KABILIANA - How was your collaboration with Katia?
DIMITREA - Katia and I didn’t actually have any direct contact until the book was completely finished.
KABILIANA - How does reading contribute in helping disadvantaged children to raise looking forward a different future for themselves?
DIMITREA - I think that reading opens up worlds and choices that don’t otherwise occur to disadvantaged children because of the limitations of their environments. I speak from personal experience. From the time that my daughters were very small (we lived in Indiana for the first seven years of my eldest daughter’s life) we stayed in the library. We took out tons of books of stories from all over the world. People were often surprised at how cultured and sophisticated my children were to be so young and not to have traveled farther than New York. It was the books that allowed us to travel and to dream of things outside our experience. Now that we live in New York City we get to meet people from all these places and we truly appreciate the diversity.
KABILIANA - How are American children readers according to your experience? What do they prefer most?
DIMITREA - The American children readers I know the most about are my children. My mom just retired after many years of teaching kindergarten and special reading. She says that if a book is written at their reading level, the kids like to read books that have characters that are familiar to them. They like funny pictures and bright colors. She agrees that repetitious and musical phrases are attractive to American children. I think that her observations are probably applicable universally.
KABILIANA - Which illustrators do you admire? Why?
DIMITREA - I love Trina Schart Hyman, Leo & Diane Dillon, Brian Pinkney, Kadir Nelson and Patricia Polacco. Something that they have in common is the richness of their art and their ability to tell a story, even without words. They have all done books where they were both the author and illustrator and that is what I would like to do soon.
KABILIANA - Have you ever tried to write yourself a story?
DIMITREA - I am working on a few right now.
KABILIANA - Would you tell us three illustrated books you read and liked most in the last year?
DIMITREA - I recommend The Girl Who Spun Gold by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Dianne Dillon, The Fortune-tellers by Alexander Loydd, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman and The Shark God by Rafe Martin, illustrated by David Shannon.
Thank's to Katia and Dimitrea and best luck for the Virtual Tour! And many thank's to Katia Dimitrea and Tilbury Publisher or donating their copy of "Amadi's Snowman" for the Kabiliana Library Project.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kabiliana on School Library Journal

A fantastic news welcomed me this morning, our project is on THE SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, and this thanks to the fantastic and super active Amy Bodden Bowllan who plays an important role in building libraries for low-income families. Currently holding the position of Director of Diversity, Amy teaches Broadcast Journalism and Technology classes at The Hewitt School in NYC/USA. Will soon read about her here.
Thank you Amy, you did a wonderful work!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reading, Always Reading

I recently had the pleasure to read Katia NovetSaint-Lot 's "Amadi's Snowman" which tells the story of a Nigerian boy who dreams to become a trader that at a certain point discovers the wonders of books. Katia has published on her blog a meme on "first time writing experience" and I'm very happy to answer these questions too. Also as Kabilana aims to promote reading and literacy projects...

Do you remember the first book you ever read on your own?

I cannot remember the very first book but one of the first books that really impressed me and signed my passion for reading was "Around the World in 80 Days" by Jules Verne. Was a huge volume with a blue leather hardcover with colourful illustrations. I was very jelous about it, you can imagine at night after reading, I was wrapping the book with a red woolen cloth putting it under my pillow , just to be sure to find it the next morning. I borrowed that book it from my aunt and I remember I never returned it back!

Do you remember how you felt?

I felt very committed in the achievement of understanding a story by my own, I felt I was travelling with P. Fogg and Passepartout on the balloon visiting different countriest , smelling differents shents and dressing soft coloured clothes. I realized that you could see places and things without being anyewhere. I found that words were extraordinary instruments to express ideas and feelings...I was even jelous that others would have the same thought.

Do you remember a book that you read again and again as a child?

I love re-reading books. One of the book I kept on reading and re reading was Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. It was and it is an extraordinary book. Surely I understood its deep meanings more as an adult then as a child, but I was fascinated by this story of a piece of wood becoming alive, laughing, enjoying, surprising, loving, suffering, with its innocence and curiosity.

Why that book? Have you read it again as an adult?

Pinocchio is a very helpful book either for children either for parents... I read it several times as an adult and shared it with my daughters twice, we read it together, every evening for a period, they also read it at school and they all enjoyed as well as I did. They followed Pinocchio becoming a donkey in the world of donkeys populated by all the children who didn't want to read and study, disappointed because they know that reading and studying is something marvellous and could not think that Pinocchio and his friends were ready to live without those things. I had the opportinuty to feel their emotions in front of big important themes. I believe that Pinocchio is one of the greatest books ever written, there is this beautiful metaphora of being something else and becoming a human being thank's to hardship, love and awareness.

Why do you read?

I read as I need to. Books are my hoxygene, I need them for my soul and my mind in the same way I need food for my body. Raeading allows me to live different lives, to confront emotions and ideas, to travel without physically moving, to experience things by different point of views and to enrich my identity through other's lives. Also without reading I could not be a writer!

Amy Bowllann, Martha Nassibou, Susan Wingate, Max Babi, Cat Bauer,Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Susie Sawyer, Naomi Hirahara and anyone who reads you are tagged... would you like to continue the tour on First Time Reading? Then just cut, paste and answer these questions on your blog/site.

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