Why African Kids Don’t Read African Stories – Yet

Growing up in Ghana, as my friends and I sat around the front of the school in our brown and beige uniforms waiting for our parents to pick us up, our conversations would inevitably turn towards our favorite characters in books: The Wakefield Twins from Sweet Valley High and the girls from Babysitters Club. We would discuss what we would wear to prom one day, the "pumps" we would buy at our next visit to the mall, and the babysitting empire we planned to build, just like Maryanne and Kristy.

We were dreamy young girls sweating in Accra’s afternoon heat, chatting a mile a minute about dreams which were formed from fragments of a world very far removed from our own. The reality was that we would never have a prom, we not only had never seen "pumps" but we didn’t even know what they were. In those days, there were no malls in Accra and the concept of babysitting did not exist–the extended family played that role.

This experience demonstrated to me the power of stories to shape who we are. I, like generations of Africans, grew up and continue to grow up without access to books that…

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