First Published: 2017-10-01

Innovative project stimulates childrens imagination
The project stresses the importance of reading and listening to stories in the formation of childrens consciousness and in stimulating their imagination.
Middle East Online

By Marwa al-A'sar - CAIRO

A childs drawing for the King Midas tale

When Hala Mansour had difficulty finding new bedtime stories to tell her two children, she had an idea that has been developed into a successful endeavour targeting mothers and children.

Hawadeet.net, a website established by Mansour almost two years ago, offers tales from the four corners of the world in the form of videos, narrated in Arabic in a simple and friendly way.

It takes time and effort for mothers of young children to find a new story to tell every day. That is why I came up with the idea of sharing the stories and tales I have collected with other (mothers), Mansour said.

Children can listen to the tales whenever and wherever they wish.

The idea of my project is to use the story as a means of enriching childrens imagination with human heritage, Mansour said. It is an attempt to attract them to different worlds in which expression is made through drawing, writing and story-telling.

Folk stories and legends of peoples of the world are presented in the form of tales in Egyptian colloquial dialect, with the target audience of children aged 4-12.

The website includes fairy tales and stories from the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Arab world. It is a collection of narratives from around the world distributed among five clickable icons on the site, Mansour said.

Each tale reflects the characteristics and traditions of the area to which it belongs. For example, Arab stories are mostly set in the desert while in European tales you find snow and ice, she added.

This is a project that our Arab culture lacks. It does not just offer tales in an attractive way. Rather, behind it you can find a critical eye in rewriting the tales, award-winning novelist Sahar el-Mougy said of Hawadeet.net.

Even though well-known tales are also found on the website, some are narrated differently after being edited.

We really need a critical mind that analyses and gives itself the right to intervene in the texts and edit them to offer children magnificent art that frees their imagination and resists stereotypes and clichs, said Mougy, who volunteered to narrate a number of tales.

Editing stories was essential as some, for example, contained violence or other negative aspects. So, we changed parts of the stories or their endings, Mansour said. Several people volunteered to help. Some edited stories while others narrated the tales in their voices.

The pictures on the videos drawn by children are presented in each story in the form of slides.

When you narrate a story to a child and he draws it on paper, thats what I call an attempt to stimulate a childs imagination and create something valuable, Mansour said.

With Hawadeet.net, children can narrate the stories themselves or have people they choose tell the stories and record them on the website.

I thought of allowing children, their parents, grandparents or anyone they like to narrate the tales in their voices and keep them on the website. I wish my late grandmother could record me a story that I could keep on the website forever, Mansour said.

Mansours 10-year-old daughter, Laila, said she enjoyed drawing characters for the tales more than playing with her iPad. Her 7-year old sister, Zeina, started working with their mother on the website one-and-a-half years ago. Zeina said she did lots of drawings, especially of her favourite character, a mermaid.

It is really hard nowadays to keep children away from playing with electronic devices and watching television but our project aimed to divert their interest and I believe that we have succeeded, Mansour said.

Mansour said she plans to have workshops for children to draw tales and record them in their voices and possibly narrate them at public events.

It will be really amazing if we train them to confront an audience and tell the stories themselves, she said.

Marwa al-Asar is a Cairo-based journalist.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.

 

France, US clash with Iran over changing nuclear accord

Syria donors fall short of UN target without US aid

Same family names in Lebanon election

Turkey jails opposition daily journalists

Iraq’s ex-football stars from sports to politics

UK ‘seeking information’ over British-Iranian’s arrest

Macron says Trump may pull out of Iran nuclear deal

Turkey opposition journalists demand acquittal in terror trial

UN says Syria blocking humanitarian aid to Douma

OPCW experts visit second site of alleged Douma gas attack

Israeli policeman gets 9 months jail for killing Palestinian

US court rules for Arab Bank in precedent-setting case

Lebanese candidates pay hefty price for media coverage

Madani’s resignation sheds light on Iranian power play

Kuwait expels Filipino ambassador over treatment of workers

Syria aid donations for 2018 fall short of amount hoped

Growing anti-war sentiment in the US Congress could spell trouble for Trump

Liverpool’s Salah wins Israeli defence minister’s plaudits

Body of assassinated Palestinian driven through Malaysian capital

'Gap in perceptions' threatens wider Middle East war

UNESCO picks Morocco for project on prevention of violent extremism

Syrian regime retakes region near Damascus from rebels

Mogherini: Iran deal 'needs to be preserved'

Syria rebels prepare as Assad sets sights on next target

Iran's Rouhani questions 'right' to seek new nuclear deal

Iraq's Shiites split ahead of crucial vote

EU to Russia, Iran: Bring Syria to peace talks

Trump, Macron call for 'new' nuclear deal with Iran

Saudi Arabia claims killing of Yemen rebel leader

Syria's Idlib 'big new challenge' for international community

UNRWA chief says Palestinian aid $200 million short since Trump cuts

Bad memories resurface at Raqa’s mass grave

Turkey newspaper chief slams journalist terror trial

Setback for Yemen rebels after strike takes out leader

Saudi issues Islamic sukuk sale to finance deficit

Yarmuk, an epicentre of Syria's bloody conflict

Egypt’s Eurobond succeeds but risks remain

Egypt former anti-corruption chief gets five years jail

Philippines apologises to Kuwait over 'maid rescues'

Iran urges EU not to pay Trump ‘ransom’ over nuclear deal

UAE to finance project to rebuild Mosul's Grand al-Nuri Mosque

EU, UN begin major conference for Syria aid

New tensions rise between old rivals Turkey and Greece

Rouhani warns Trump against betraying nuclear deal

10 killed in Toronto “deliberate” van attack