What do you get when you have a Kuwaiti young mother on the lookout for culture enriching as well as educational activity books for her children, but nothing that suits local tastes? A gap. One that Jumana Al-Awadhi quickly filled. That’s when “We Love Kuwait” was born. Read on to get a personal account on how the “We Love Kuwait” personal educational project catered to Jumana’s kids and rapidly transformed into one of the most successful local children book series to date.
Khaleejesque Team: What inspired you to start “We Love Kuwait”?
Jumana Al-Awadhi: Like many new parents, we started collecting books and reading to our son Dhari as soon as he was born (even bought him books before he was born). We ended up buying many children’s books, but we always felt that something was missing in all of these books—simply put, the absence of the Kuwaiti touch.
We recognized a void in the market that needed to be filled, so we started researching to see if other parents and educators felt the same way we did; everybody shared our wish to see something with Kuwaiti significance for our children. After carefully studying the project and after numerous consultations, we decided to create something original that embraces the Kuwaiti essence.
The first series of books are geared toward the Kuwaiti child, rich with developmental activities like reading, coloring, rhymes, puzzles, and, most importantly, these books carry basic messages about health, the environment, and our culture.
The books prove to be an excellent medium for the exchange and acquisition of knowledge. We believe that our younger generations can significantly benefit from the knowledge that is imparted through these books. We seek to aid in the development of our beloved Kuwait.
This is our ambition and this is the purpose of the www.welovekuwait.com books, which later turned into a bigger project.
KT: How did you go about working on this project?
JA: When we decided to write and illustrate a Kuwaiti children's book, we immediately consulted many of our friends in the educational field, I say we meaning my husband and I; they all confirmed the void in the market for such a project and even offered their help for the execution of this project. I chose coloring as our theme because coloring is a recognized and established method of children’s education.
We Love Kuwait books also contain fun little songs that we wrote especially for kids in Kuwait! Children love singing rhymes and also connect to them well. Rhymes are an excellent tool to teach children of every age, even before a child learns to hold a pen or open a book, babies enjoy their mommy’s and daddy’s voices; especially when reading rhymes!
My background in nutrition obviously influenced the content of the books as you can see the books focused on healthy eating habits, life style and how to take care of our planet.
KT: Why did you choose the name "We Love Kuwait"?
JA: To develop our society, we must build a keen sense of what I like to call Kuwaitism. The future of Kuwait lies in the competence of our future generations. Our children are the essence of how we identify ourselves as Kuwaitis. The core of Kuwaiti values that we are promoting in our books and we want to install in our youth are commitment, loyalty, and patriotism. We Love Kuwait and this is the main reason for our dedication and commitment to this project. we hope to pass this love to the younger generation so they can have the same kind of commitment and devotion to our land.
KT: How was the feedback from the public been?
JA: I have to tell u that when I started with this project it was merely a mothers vision, I just wanted to see a Kuwaiti children’s book published. I never planned or expected for it to be such a “hit” with teachers and parents.Ever since the first book was published 5 years ago i have been overwhelmed by positive and supportive feedback from teachers who spent so many years in Kuwait, young parents telling us how much they loved the books and even demand more. Our hard work has been recognized and appreciated by many pioneering establishments and we had the privilege to work on many more projects for the children of Kuwait.
Major book sellers run out of stock very fast. Everyone's enthusiasm is keeping us motivated and successful that we actually had to start a bookshop project and opened our shop and office in Muthanna complex Kuwait city to run the business. I smile and float with happiness every time a teacher or a parent sends me a sweet email or leave me a message about how a child reacted or how much he/she enjoyed one of our books.
KT: Are your books bilingual, English and Arabic?
JA: Our recent books are in both languages, and we plan to keep it that way. However most of the first book series were in English and we are about to re-publish that series again in both languages. We chose to start with English books obviously because the support we got to publish these books were from private schools in Kuwait. I am a certified translator and Arabic is very important to me as a mother so I insisted to add it to every book we published after that.
KT: Any plans to go regional as in the Gulf, or worldwide?
JA: I really want to focus on my work here with our Kuwaiti children, I feel responsible for it. However we were thrilled to receive proposals and offers from regional countries to create books for them, we also were approached by the National Library of France and our books can be found in Paris, UK and the states, we received book orders from teachers around the world who were interested in our books for a lesson about a small beautiful country called Kuwait.
JA: What’s in the future for “We Love Kuwait”?
KT: We are growing rapidly, and although I live in the USA at the moment we do have amazing well structured plans and I'm running my bookstore from here also working on new books to be published as soon as we are back to Kuwait. I am especially excited about a project that will make a huge difference in children’s lives in Kuwait.
For more information about We Love Kuwait and how to order online, visit their website here.
Images courtesy of We Love Kuwait