My First Books
by Ifeoma Onyefulu
When I was growing up in Nigeria, I didn't have that many books. We lived in small towns where there were no libraries or bookshops, and the few shops there were, sold mostly rulers, pencils and notebooks, so it was very difficult to buy books.
However, my parents sometimes bought my sibling and I books. Unfortunately, the books we had in those days were all about white children, who were either called John or Jill. There were always a boy and a girl in the book, with blond hair and blue eyes. They wore squeaky clean clothes, and shoes, as well. I was told lots of stories by my mother and other close relatives. They were such great stories; entertaining and full of good moral values for children.
The few books I had as a child were mostly about white children who were either called Jack or John, and in the case of a girl, Jane or Mary. They all had blond hairs and blue eyes, and were always squeaky clean.
For a while I thought all white children were like those two, until I came across Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield.
When I was a teenager, my reading list grew, thanks to my older brother who lent me his books. He read mainly crime novels. Since I had no choice, I read what he read. But he'd always make my wash my hands before I was allowed to touch any of his books.
I believe my experiences have made me appreciate books a lot more. Perhaps that is why I became an author. But the good news is, I tell those stories my mother told us to school children in England.