Publishers urged to make children’s books attractive

Accra- The International Board for Books for the Young (iBBY) has opened its Fifth African Regional Conference in Accra with a call on publishers to use illustrations to make their books attractive to children.

Madam Akoss Ofori-Mensah, the President of iBBY-Ghana, who made the call, said illustrations were important to children because pictures fascinated more than words hence the need to use images to make the books attractive.

The four-day conference brought participants from Gambia, Brazil, Uganda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, China, United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and South Africa to discuss the importance of illustrations in children’s picture books.

It was on the theme: Importance of Illustrations in Children’s Books.

Madam Ofori-Mensah said some books from the colonial era were still being used today because the texts, illustrations, printing and binding were beautifully done.

However, it was time to replace such books to get children to relate to things in their environment, she said.

As a child, I read stories such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and others. The colonial masters shared their stories with us and I remember my school teacher taught me poems that I can still recite now, made to draw daffodils in my exercise book but until I travelled to the UK, I had never seen daffodils, Madam Ofori-Mensah said.

She said Ghana had stories to tell such as folktales that would help children learn about their culture, environment and build their confidence.

Mr Shi Ting Wang, the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, urged parents to invest more in books for their children, saying it would better their lives in future.

He said if children developed the habit of reading, it would build their abilities to explore and learn new things.

Mr Shi said children’s literature in China had grown ten-fold since 2005, becoming a dynamic and promising sector in the publishing industry.

He said in 2,000 about 12,000 children’s book were published in China, which had increased to 40,000 in 2015 due to outstanding performance of the publishers and children’s interest in reading.

As China has grown into the second biggest economy in the world, children’s literature are attracting more and more attention of the world, he noted.

He commended Professor Esi Sutherland Addy for her contributions to education, literature, theatre and culture in the past decades.

Mr Mingzhou Zhang, the iBBY President, said the group’s prime function was to promote the joy of reading and literacy among children and make children’s literature and plays more accessible, affordable and of high quality.

It is also to produce quality books with illustrations to help the children acquire more knowledge.

He said the high rate of illiteracy in Africa had become a barrier to prosperity, adding that it was good to encourage children to read because it provided them the ability of learning spontaneously.

This, Mr Mingzhou said, would create an opportunity for the children to become addicted to reading and desist from technology, which had taken their attention nowadays.

He said reading created wisdom, understanding and broadened the minds of children.

Mrs Cynthia Mamle Morrison, the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, said the conference had coincided with the National Children’s Day and the 40 years of the establishment of the Government machinery for implementation of Children’s Rights.

Also is the commemoration of the 30th Anniversary on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

She said the theme was apt as words in themselves did not mean much to children but pictures stuck forever, adding that encouraging children to read would develop them holistically.

Professor Esi Sutherland Addy advised that African books be made attractive to compete with those on the international market.

Source: Ghana News Agency