Word from Liberia

Exciting news! The first page in the history of Liberian children’s literature has now been written!

James & Leslie - author and illustratorYes, the first books written and illustrated by Liberian authors and illustrators as part of the Reading Liberia program have now arrived in Monrovia!

Yvonne, one of the founders of the program, wrote:

Hello Kathy,

Guess what! We have received the first four titles of RL books. You need to see them all in full color. We are so proud and excited here at the office. Oh Kathy thank you very much. Can you imagine, our very own books. The titles are: Varney and the Monkey Bridge, Shoes That Fit, Toyuwa’s Fear and Blama’s Dream. I mean I’m over joy.



Mike, the other mastermind behind Reading Liberia, wrote:

By the end of March, we should have about 36,000 copies of the 8 initial titles. The books look very attractive and are of the type that kids would want to pick up on their own to read…

Reading Liberia is on course training teachers, writers, illustrators  and producing relevant books that the Liberian children would want to read as they work towards becoming reading children who will become reading adults.

Thanks again for being part of the team that is making this come true.

Bye for now,


This, of course, is exactly what Mike & Yvonne were hoping for when they conceived their program.

When I wrote to congratulate the authors of the four books that have arrived, saying that I wished I could be there to see their faces the first time they hold their books in their hands – and even more, the first time they see those books in the hands of a child – one of them replied:

O, yes Kathy. I can’t wait for the launching. Thanks to all of u. The knowledge acquired from u, Katie Hearn, Charlie, Alison, Wendy, Shawn, Ingrid, et al of CODE, WE-CARE, READING LIBERIA, LIBERIA ASSO. OF WRITERS is value more that gold and silver or any otherr precious stone. I ca only express the joy and appreciation by applying all that I learned. You have helped Liberian writers prove their worth and show their value in Nation building.You all have done a marvelous thing worth emmulation. BRAVO!

James V. Dwalu

James is the author of Blama’s Dream and Varney and the Monkey Bridge. Please note the proud new way he signed his email.

The other authors I’d like you to join me in congratulating are: Watchen Johnson Babalola, Augustus Y. Voahn, Brandy & Milly Wolova, and Elfreda S. Johnson. Elfreda’s “Living in the Village with Mama” and Watchen’s “Kakakolo” are not yet up on CODE’s website.

Liberian schoolkids

The illustrators who are also to be congratulated are: Chase Walker, Molu F. Jorgbor, Leslie Lumeh, Morton Mansa Mason, and Duke Appleton. With very limited resources, they have brought the authors’ stories to life in ways sure to enchant the lucky Liberian children who will soon be reading them.

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Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson


  1. Susan Blakeney on February 24, 2011 at 4:21 am

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring account of events. What an awesome experience for everyone involved–congratulations to all and happy reading! With joy and admiration for RL and its writers, illustrators and supporters, Susan.

  2. Kathy Stinson on February 24, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks for joining in on the sense of excitement, Susan.

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