Getting your kids to sit down and read is proving to be a difficult task this day and age. As adults, we all talk about the merits of reading. But before we became adult bookworms we were raised as bookworm children! And that’s what the creative storytellers at 7adoota book club are hoping to bring into the world: a young generation of avid readers.
So how is 7adoota doing that? Well, they’re not magicians, but two passionate women: Aya Dorgham and Maha Fathi. Their initiative is an immersive storytelling experience for children ages 0-10. They divide their story-book sessions into two age groups 0-6 years of age and 6-10. Using their passion for reading and their colorful puppets and props both these ladies are getting kids acquainted with the world of books page by page. Their storytelling sessions are roughly an hour long and usually held once per month. But the books chosen for each session cover a host of different topics. From bullying to kindness and respect to so much more.
It’s pretty impressive, but the origin story is what really got us to see the real hearts and souls behind this initiative.
The Origin Story
Maha and Aya were always book-lovers even as children. As a literature major, books were always a part of Maha’s life. The real turning point happened when she came back from Canada, filled with the need to give back to the community. At the same time, Maha was having a hard time breaking it to her kids (aged 7, 5 and 4) that their parents got divorced. She bought kid’s books on divorce and sat her kids down and read to them. Surprisingly, her kids got to the conclusion on their own. “ Is this why we stay in two homes mommy?” they asked. And that’s how she broke the news to her children. By framing it through a narrative Maha got her kids to think critically about an important issue.
Aya, a mother of three and Maha’s cousin is the second half of this two-part story. The idea for a children’s book-club was always on her mind. With her experience as a business teacher, Aya brought an enthusiasm for educating children through storytelling. Add to that, Aya’s supportive husband who’s been pushing her to pursue her passions since day one.
And so, Maha and Aya started their 7adoota journey. Having taken courses in positive parenting and discipline the two were primed for this new initiative. They bounced off ideas from each other to come up with a brand name for their organization. Eventually, it was Maha’s mother that came up with the name “7adoota”.
And the Story Continues…
The two entrepreneurs landed their first storytelling performance event, in Trillium Nursery in New Cairo. To prep for the event, Maha and Aya stayed up until 4 AM rehearsing. We’re not quite sure what they had to worry about since the story-telling was met with praise from both the educators and the kids!
Their real breakthrough was their Mother’s Day event where they only had one child registered to attend. But they weren’t discouraged, they showed up to Diwan with books in one hand and puppets on the other. But parents and children showed up in throngs to their surprise! They even had to have microphones to accommodate the number of people in attendance. And their reading of Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever” had some of the mothers tearing up.
Since then, they’ve been reading stories at different schools, nurseries and at Diwan bookstores. Their maxim is to carry on these events even if there’s one kid in attendance. Their purpose is to spread the love of reading and to really help connect with children through books.
Family Run and Oriented
What really makes 7adoota a great platform is the fact that their events and stories are family-oriented. Mommies and daddies bring their children. While the kids actually urge their parents to attend. Each event is a bonding experience for both child and parent. In fact, reading stories has been a great way for Maha and Aya to connect with their own children as they rehearse every story on their kids before presenting it.
And if being family-oriented wasn’t enough, the business itself is family run too! Maha and Aya are cousins. In fact, their artist and puppet maker Esraa Wahba and their graphic designer Habiba Amin are their cousins as well. Yup, it’s a family business from page to stage! Another thing worth noting is that the puppets they include create a sensory experience for the children. They can touch and feel the items in the books since they’re made with different fabrics that are close to the real-life object. In that way and so much more, 7adoota has given kids a way to actually see books come to life.