Some stakeholders have urged that writers, especially in Africa, use indigenous content in books written for children.
They argued that illustrations taken from the immediate surrounding would help children identify with the content and generate the interest in reading them.
Addressing the Fifth African Congress of the International Board on Books for the Young (IBBY), Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection Cynthia Morrison said the suggestion was critical to ensure that localized drawings and photos help to boost literacy among people.
She said pictures helped children to understand what they read, as they stick forever in their minds, adding however that the children in Africa saw so many things in books but had no idea what they meant.
“You only get to see some of these things you read about if you travel. What if the child never travels to see the meadow and other illustrations from foreign sources?” Morrison wondered.
She, therefore, lauded IBBY for holding a dialogue on that subject during the congress which ended here on Sunday.
“We urge you to develop children’s books that are in our context; so that our children in the rural areas will have pictures they are familiar with and can easily relate to, and so understand better the materials they read,” the minister added.
The theme of the four-day conference was “The Importance of Illustrations in Children’s Books,” and the participants discussed the use of appropriate illustrations to get children to develop the culture of reading.
The president of IBBY Zhang Mingzhou said that in a world of digitization physical books were still critical for children.
“We need to promote high-quality books, with good illustrations among children. This is because children love pictures, images, illustrations, imagination, and color. So these must be used to attract them back to the culture of book reading,” Zhang told Xinhua.
A four-day book-fair held alongside the conference showcased various reading materials which children can choose from.
“Our mission is to promote international understanding through quality children’s books and help to keep world peace. Our prime priority is to promote the joy of reading and literacy among children,” Zhang added.