Students across 400 schools in Kenya look to break a world record for having the most people reading aloud from the same book at the same time. Currently, the United States holds the record with 233,000, but the Kenyan effort is growing and ongoing.
The students are reading the book “Attack of the Shidas: AKAs Save Planet Earth” by author Muthoni Muchemi (pictured). The reading effort isn’t simply about placing within the Guinness Book Of World Records. It is also helping to inspire a love of reading among Kenyans.
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Kenyan children’s book author Muthoni Muchemi led the event with 1,700 students reading from her book at Hospital Hill Primary School in the capital, Nairobi.
Afterward, she said she wanted to break the stereotype that Africans do not care for books.
“Growing up I would always hear that if you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book – and it was really upsetting to me,” she told the BBC.
“I want to help change that perception and the first step is to re-introduce reading not just as important but enjoyable,” she said.
“I have seen over the years that a lot of families don’t have libraries in their homes but they have big TVs. We need to get parents to understand that reading for pleasure with their children is an important part of brain development.”
The event, known as the Storymoja National Read Aloud, attracted 142,279 children last year across 360 schools. With the additional schools, the goal of the record could be reached. Over the weekend, organizers said it would take roughly a week to tally all of the numbers from the various schools that participated.
But more than the record, Ms. Muchemi is far more concerned with instilling literacy within the minds of Kenyan youth and exposing them to worlds outside their own via tales and information found inside books.