Nigeria’s favourite literary event for young readers, the Akada Children’s Book Festival (ACBF), took place on Saturday, September 23, 2023, at Starfield Montessori School in Lekki, Lagos. The festival, which is the first and largest Nigerian book festival curated specifically for children, featured a diverse line-up of authors and illustrators who introduced a range of incredible indigenous-centred stories to the budding minds in attendance.
The festival, a showcase of children’s books written by African authors or books from around the world written for a diverse audience of children, provided an unmatched platform for children to see themselves reflected in the books they read. It was a celebration of African culture and heritage, and it promoted literacy and cultural awareness among children.
“We are thrilled to have welcomed families, schools and reading groups from across the state and other parts of the country, to the fifth edition of the Akada Children’s Book Festival,” said renowned author and convener of the ACBF, Mrs. Olubunmi Aboderin Talabi. “The ACBF is a celebration of African stories and authors, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share these stories with children and families from all over Nigeria. We hope that the festival has inspired children to read more, to learn about different cultures, and to explore the world of books. Children are the future, and they need to have access to books that reflect their own experiences and cultures. The ACBF is committed to providing a platform for African authors and illustrators to share their stories with the world, and we are hopeful that the festival will inspire a new generation of readers and writers.”
The 2023 ACBF was themed “Through the Pages” and featured a diverse range of activities for children of all ages. Author-led book readings, book chats, featured books, storytime sessions, and book exhibitions allowed children to meet their favourite authors and learn about new books. Writing & illustration competitions, a chess tournament, a STEM exhibition, a sip and paint, and an art exhibition provided opportunities for children to express their creativity and have fun. Insightful sessions for parents and teachers offered guidance on how to support children’s literacy development, while professional workshops for writers, illustrators, and publishers provided a platform for adults to learn and grow in their careers.
Other activities included a Young Author’s Panel which showcased emerging creative talents and their debut publications, such as Oluwasemilore Lanre-Raheem, author of Miss Cleany Shoes and Kosisochukwu Ugboh, author of Left Alone. The Society for the Performing Arts Nigeria (SPAN) performed drama presentations of popular children’s books – Mummy, Can I…? and Kob the Antelope; Noma Sodipo, author of A Pre-School Alphabet Book, led a creative writing masterclass for Children’s Authors; and Lola Udabor, personal wellbeing coach, moderated a girls-only panel on navigating puberty with Omobola Olaribigbe, author and social impact advocate, and Omolayo Ogundele-Oyawoye, author and child behaviour therapist, as panellists.
According to attendees, the event was an unforgettable day of imagination and discovery as it brought book lovers’ havens to life by celebrating the power of stories in connecting and inspiring people of all ages. The festival was duly supported by IweMi, Starfield Montessori School, PepsiCo, Cool FM, Leadway Assurance, STEM-METS, The Learning Place, Hot Hobs, Cafe Jade, Zolene, Parkview International Kindergarten School, SPAN, and the Nurturing Tree Nursery School.