Books Help Rwandan Kids Cope After Genocide
Only children's publisher in Rwanda has sold about 450,000 copies of 27 titles
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2007 7:58 PM CDT
Africa. Rwanda. Ishwa. Children celebrate having won a prize for their play about clean water for an MSF sponsored competition at the Ishwa Island School. (LON47868)   (Magnum Photos)
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(Newser) – Rwandan kids are coping with life after genocide by reading, says the country's sole children's publisher. "After the genocide, children did not laugh, children did not play. But through language and stories, children can learn cultural history, and learn of our joy of life." Agnes Gyr-Ukunda says he has published roughly 450,000 copies of 27 titles since the Hutu-led ethnic cleansing of 1994.

The books are inspiring kids to pick up Rwanda's rich oral tradition, Gyr-Ukunda adds. "Some children will read a story then they want to tell it to other children — then others say, why can't I do that too?" Despite a 55% literary rate, Rwandans keep buying the titles, which range from fanciful tales of vain crocodiles to serious stories about teenage angst and AIDS.