Christopher Farai Charamba The Reader
Catch them young is a phrase that is quoted when the education of children is called for. The belief is that if you can instil the skill or the discipline while a child is still young then it will have a lasting effect on them. Another expression that goes to support this position is, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.
One has long been an advocate for creating a reading culture in young children. There is no substitute for knowledge and one of the ways to acquire it is through reading.
Reading is a habit and like all habits it needs to be nurtured by investing the time to do. For a reading culture to be created in young children it is essential for them to be able to have reading material they not only enjoy but that they can relate to.
This is what Eve Nyemba-Mazando has done with her children’s book titled “Paradise Stories”. The 53-page book, with six short stories, is a simple but enjoyable read and great book for young children to appreciate the significance of reading but also be taught important moral lessons.
The stories in the book are tailored towards a Christian audience and for those parents who wish to educate their children on Christian values with stories consisting of Zimbabwean characters then this book is the perfect resource.
Not only does “Paradise Stories” draw on biblical themes, it also explores different societal issues that children face, and how they can be ad- dressed.
In the first story, “The Princess Who Never Talked”, Nyemba-Mazando tells of Prince Ishe who was looking for a wife. He hears of the beautiful Princess Runako and travels to meet her in order to propose.
When he arrives he finds that Princess Runako does not speak to anyone or respond to anything. After days of seeking means to interact with her, he prays about what he should do and eventually finds something that appeals to the princess and the two become friends.
What is interesting about this story is that children can be socially awkward and find it difficult to relate to other children and even their peers. Each one though has something they are passionate about, be it sport, cooking or reading on which an entry point to friendship and breaking down anti-social barriers can be built.
The story “Kundai and the Fearsome Crocodile” is one which teaches bravery and the importance of helping out those who may not have the strength or courage to stand up to their fears.
In “Zindoga, The Lonely Prince” the lesson is on honouring one’s parents and the importance of seeking permission. The author tells of Prince Zindoga who has no friends until one day he meets Princess Ruvarashe who he runs off to play with without informing his parents.
His teachers who he is usually with are forced into a panic when they cannot find him. It is Ruvarashe’s parents who eventually encourage him to return home and allow him to play with their daughter as long as his parents grant him permission to do so.
The nativity story is also told in the book under the title “The Holy Child”. As Jesus is a central part of Christianity it is fitting that this story be included in the book. It breaks down the birth of Jesus and highlights his importance to the Christian church.
In “The Greedy Girl”, Nyemba-Mazando again goes back to the theme of honouring one’s parents. The story tells of Sofia, a greedy and gluttonous girl who works her mother ill by always expecting her to cook her food and clean after her.
When Sofia’s mother is hospitalised she soon realises the error of her ways when she has to take up the responsibilities in the household.
“Paradise Stories” has lovely relatable tales and is a great read and morality lesson for young children. The book is available at Innov8 bookstore and from the author who can be reached via her Facebook page “Paradise Stories”.