It is a well-established fact that children’s knowledge and aptitude reduces dramatically during the summer holidays unless they are kept engaged in activities that stimulate them – parks, museums, galleries and such like. It has also been proven time and again that reading – fictional, creative and literary works is one of the best ways to keep children’s minds engaged even during the school downtime.
Unfortunately, just because they’re on holidays doesn’t mean the parents are. You still have to go to work and pay the bills, and you don’t always have the time for smeh-smeh. Also, particularly if you live in the UK, the weather doesn’t always co-operate for long, fun summer outings.
It is for this reason that twin titan mothers, passionate about child growth and development set up the Summer Reading Challenge for young children – something fun to engage the kids, keep their minds in peak performance, and increase their creativity.
Ms Eyewu L. Walker-Nthenda is part Malawian, part Nigerian (by way of a few other African countries!) who is passionate about knowledge. Not just of the continent, but of everything. An avid reader and an equally fabulous writer, her work can be found on her literary blog: Beau Rikefe. She is a mother to two super-smart girls.
Bunmi Olabode is passionate about homes, families and relationships. Her Facebook Blog with over 4,000 participants and radio show have gone from strength to strength as she discusses family matters and relationship goals. Bunmi is a mum to a daughter and two boys.
The Summer Reading Challenge picked the theme of MYTHS AND LEGENDS – the kids were to pick any book within this genre, read a minimum of one a week, write a review on each book, and recommend books amongst themselves.
What started as a concept between the mothers turned into a reading frenzy for the kids, and groups of children all around the world started reading books on myths and legends – from Maori to Norse to Greek to Yoruba. While this very first reading challenge was focussed to kids between the ages of 6-11, it will now be expanded to accommodate other children from next year.
The London reading group culminated the 6-week exercise with a picnic at Hyde Park yesterday, 15th August.
It was one of the star readers’ birthdays, but even that couldn’t keep him away as he brought his cake to share with his new found friends. He had this to say about the fab day:
Hello everybody, this is Tife. I would like to give you my thoughts on the challenge and yesterday’s picnic. Firstly, I would like to thank the aunties that organised it. It was a very worthy and interesting cause. The challenge challenged my mind and also made me think about the books I was actually reading. It motivated me to read more books such as War Horse that I got from the library and other books. I like writing about childhood heroes because they are also legends. The picnic was very nice (especially the chicken) and was also my 12th birthday. I had fun and met many other kids in my category who liked writing about legends. I also met other people who liked myths and kids that liked myths and legends. We had a lot of fun at the same time learning from each other even though I was the oldest there. I think this should be done on a regular basis because it stimulates the brain sometimes and its fun! – Tife Abi, 12 (as of yesterday!)
Another one of our beautiful, smart kids, Samuel Chrisokere, aged 10:
Hello my name is Samuel Chrisokere, I am sorry that I missed the book review because I went to look around the big park. However, I read 13 books this summer holiday and wish to review one here. The name of the book is Football Academy. I love football and hope to play as a professional in the future. The story is based on a boy called James Carniharm, who plays for Manchester United centre back. He played for them for years but lost taste in the game and wants to stop playing the glorious game. But all he has to do now is tell his father Cyril Carniharm who is a legend, that he wants to quit football. Because everyone expects him to be a legend just like his father. Unfortunately, James doesn’t want to be a legend like his father. I felt that James didn’t appreciate the privilege his farther gave him. I enjoyed the picnic, thanks to all the aunties that provided a variety of delicious food. I liked where the positioned the picnic, opposite the big statue. I met new people and got some new friends but the best activity I did in the park was riding those vast bikes. Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts!
Annabelle Olabode, Bunmi’s daughter, found the entire experience to be so much fun and educational at the same time!
My name is Annabelle and I’m 9yrs old. I thought the reading challenge was a really good idea because it kept me occupied for the summer holiday and writing reviews helped with my comprehension. and, I love going to the library to pick up new books. The picnic was a lot fun – we had loads to eat, played games, met new friends, reviewed our favourite books/characters and celebrated a birthday too. I HOPE WE HAVE ANOTHER NEXT YEAR!
Sometimes, a book or an author inspires a child to be greater, to find a passion, to delve into their own creativity:
Hello my name is Munachimso Chrisokere and I am 14. I recently attended the summer Reading Challenge beautifully arranged by some amazing auntie’s in Hyde Park.
Unfortunately, I missed the book review because I went to look around the vast Park with my brothers. However, there has been an author I have thought of as a legend for many years; Jacqueline Wilson.
Her books got me through some very tough times when I was younger and her books have really pushed me forward to start writing my own books. I am almost done but yet to title it.
I really enjoyed the picnic and took this time to get a couple chapters of the book I have recently finished ; Bullet Boys, while the kids played. Later on we rented some bikes and I took a quick ride down to the lake and back. I really enjoyed myself and can’t wait to go again next year. Thank you to all the auntie’s, you were all very kind and sent me home smiling.
And other times, you just have to talk about how much fun you had, because half of the purpose was for the kids to meet like-minded kids:
My name is Ayodele and I am 7yrs old. The Reading Challenge Picnic at Hyde Park was superb! Food was a blow off baby and the games were off the hook. One of the games was 2 truths and a lie, you have to guess which was the lie. I also played badminton and I was not good at it before but now, I’m much better. It was also Tife’s birthday and there was a mouth watering, lip licking cake. Hmmmm! Let’s go back to the food, the Greg’s Sandwiches were really tasty
A parent and a mother Lade Hephzibah Olugbemi, also a passionate worker for mental health issues and raising awareness particularly within the Black community, was in awe of the efforts that are being made to raise brighter, better children had this to say:
Fantastic! Well done Muna for the feedback, a skill that many have lost or…do not practice. It is good to be reflective and feedback the highlight of an experience or interaction. To the organisers of the outing and book review, my thanks go to you. Book reading is one art, skill practice or life style that Africans have neglected for so long. We no longer encourage the children to have their minds schooled. Social media, games and technology has taken over and the ability to be QUIET and learn is lost. Parents and our communities have a responsibility to input into and empower our next generation. Not by buying the latest gadgets, clothes or organising parties for them. I congratulate you Toniaamaka for the hard work you have put into raising this young lady. Bunmi and the rest of the organisers, you are on the right track… THANK YOU!
The kids had an amazing time; and the parents? Well, let’s just say that everyone discovered their inner child. And it was a beautiful thing to behold.
Photo gallery of the fun-filled day. All photographs courtesy and copyright of Michael Tubes Photography[metaslider id=1633]
More piccies from other observers of the day:[metaslider id=1657] [metaslider id=1667]
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