First Published: 2017-10-01

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

By Marwa al-A'sar - CAIRO

A child’s 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 children’s 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 clichés,” 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, that’s what I call an attempt to stim­ulate a child’s 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.

Mansour’s 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-A’sar is a Cairo-based journalist.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.

 

Tillerson pushes to undercut Iran at landmark Saudi, Iraq meeting

US-backed forces capture key Syria oil field

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Gulf share values plummet

Greening the Camps brings food and hope to refugees

No clear US strategy in Syria after Raqqa liberation

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk