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How 2020 Akada Children’s Book Festival became mecca for children’s literature

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The 2020 Akada Children’s Book Festival was an exciting and inspiring event for everyone, unlocking worlds of fiction, music, illustration and more for the children and their parents.

With a lineup of the country’s most cherished and best-selling children’s authors and illustrators, this year’s virtual festival educated, inspired, and entertained children and adults alike.

It featured book readings; book chats; book reviews; mini workshops; pop quizzes; art, music and comedy for children as well as information sessions for parents. The whole family was catered for during the festival. The success of this year’s edition of the festival confirmed that even in the age of video games, children truly do love books.

In a time of social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, people around the world turned to books and the internet for inspiration. As a result, this year’s Akada Children’s Book Festival moved online to serve a global audience and demonstrate how authors and their stories help to connect and illuminate the world. And it was indeed a huge success as it not only had an impressive attendance with over 1600 attendees streaming live from Akadafestival.org and other social media platforms; it also created a template for organizing book festivals of such magnitude.

The Akada Children’s Book Festival has also become an unlikely stop on the national children’s literature circuit, a reunion for the authors and stakeholders and this year’s professional workshops was an avenue to have a critical discourse on the way forward for the children’s literature world. Many authors and attendees from the 2019 edition also returned this year because they know the event reaches children for whom nurturing a love of reading could prove transformative.

Workshop speakers who featured at this year’s edition were children and thought leaders from the publishing, entertainment, digital media, fitness, parenting and education space in Nigeria including Lola Shoneyin, Chigul, Zainab Balogun, Chiomah Momah, Aduke Gomez, Sope Martins, Abiola Ayeni-Seriki, Vese Aladewolu, Elizabeth Osho, Tolu Adelowo among others. There was also an illustration competition for children under 13; a book exhibition; and an online art gallery.

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For Convener of the Festival and the Publisher of Clever Clogs Books Olubunmi Aboderin Talabi, the success and contribution of children’s literature cannot be overemphasized. “One thing the Akada Children’s Book Festival has shown is that we have a plethora of book authors in Nigeria. We still need more to write for children and the festival encourages an increase in this area. Furthermore the online nature of this year’s event means that we have been able to expand the book exhibition and include more participants. The art exhibition, the performing arts segments means that the festival appeals to the variety of interests that children may have in creative arts. All of this is to foster innovation, creativity and critical thinking.”

Talabi also spoke about the festival being a useful vehicle for redressing disparities in literacy; improving the reading culture and enhancing the reading experience. According to her “It is important for the self esteem of our children. It is important for literature to be as inclusive as possible so that people from different walks of life can see themselves represented in good quality, well-produced literature.”

For the second year running, what the Akada Children’s Book Festival has shown is that Nigeria’s children literature is powerfully fueled by the storytelling prowess of our most talented authors and illustrators. And that there is real magic when authors and children plus other stakeholders in the children’s literary industry connect and celebrate their shared love of stories.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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