|PHOTO | MAYRA PARRILLA GUERRERO
|Children’s book author Ada-Ari signs a copy of “The Spider’s Thin Legs” for a young fan at SouthPark Mall. Ari, a native of Nigeria, uses African folklore as inspiration for her writing.
A Nigerian author who writes children’s books about African folk tales promotes diversity with every page.
Washington, D.C.-based, Ada-Ari is the author of two books inspired by the tales she heard as a child.
“Today was all about sharing diversity and culture,” Ari said during a recent visit to Nordstrom at SouthPark Mall. “I have traveled from Nordstrom to Nordstrom around the country, just retelling the stories I was once told.”
On Oct. 29, as part of a partnership with Nordstrom, Ari invited families to the reading of her new book, “The Turtle’s Cracked Shell” at SouthPark. Ari released her newest book in April, two months after her first, titled “The Spider’s Thin Legs.”
“My first book is about following instructions and my second one is all about sharing and being kind,” said Ari, “The first book I released is from Ghana, and I’m doing readings on that one. My second one is from Nigeria. And so when I start doing both readings and traveling, I’m bringing my Nigerian artifacts and cultural things along.”
Uche Okeke, 34, who attended the reading with her husband and three children, said those type of stories are important for children to read.
“I thought it was a great opportunity for my children to learn about the culture and stories old folks used to tell in a modern way,” said Okeke, who is also of Nigerian descent and attended the reading after buying Ari’s debut book. She bought the second book during the event and confirmed her children enjoyed them.
“It’s amazing how the story she is telling is being received by all groups of people,” Okeke’s husband Raymond said. “It is critical for children to be exposed to all diverse perspectives.”
Ari began telling stories to her children, using them as inspiration to share through literature with the rest of the world.
Growing up in the United States, Ari began noticing the stories she heard back home in Nigeria were not being told anymore.
“I was enjoying them. I had free access to them. But when I moved to the United States, I wasn’t hearing any of these stories,” Ari said.
In addition to her stories, Ari includes culture cards with different facts about the culture she talks about in her books. She has toured schools and different areas throughout the country to share her folk stories.
“It has been an amazing ride,” Ari said. “On my website, I have different feedback from schools and libraries and people who I’ve read to. They actually love the stories because we’ve heard our Cinderellas, we’ve heard all the different stories, but they’ve not heard these that are fresh and new for the kids.”
Ari is on her way to San Francisco to continue to promote her book, and is also working on her third book titled “The Lion’s Promise,” which will be released in February 2023.
“The book is a Zulu story from South Africa,” she said. “It’s all about the importance of keeping your words and staying true to your promise.”
Ari’s books can be purchased for $18.99 on her website at Ada-Ari.com
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