New and innovative book uses Sierra Leonean culture to help children learn to read

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 August 2021:

After the success of her first book, “Adama Loves Akara,” Vickie Remoe has written “A Print for Ami,” the second book in a children’s series that promotes African culture and early reading.

While the first book focused on short /a/ vowel sounds, book two introduces young readers to short vowel /i/ with words like pins, shins, and tin. Parents and early childhood educators use the books to teach phonics.

“Even after three years of schooling, most children in Sierra Leone cannot read and understand simple text in English,” said Bidemi Carrol, (PhDEd), Co-Founder of The Learning Foundation, a Sierra Leonean non-profit that trains teachers (Photo below) to help children learn to read.

“We are excited to use these series for our schools because they support phonics instruction, which is a key strategy for teaching children how to read. In addition, the books are culturally and age-appropriate, which makes for engaged readers.”

In 2020, the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education recognized the importance of early learning and stimulation and launched the Early Childhood Development Policy.

The ECD policy provides the framework for community stakeholders and government agencies to collaborate and create early socialization, learning, and age-appropriate play materials for every child.

Pikin Books published a Print for Ami on August 16 to celebrate the national costume of Sierra Leone’s Krios––descendants of freed Americans, West Indians, and the liberated African captives who settled in Freetown.

The print costume, also known as Kabaslot and Kotuku is a hybrid of Ghanaian and Victorian Era clothing styles. Kabaslot and Kotoku came from Ghana’s Akan and they mean dress and sack, the basic parts of the print.

Remoe who is of Krio descent and lives in Ghana says the books keep her son connected to his heritage. Each story has the map of Sierra Leone at the beginning and in the end a list of words and expressions for children to practice.

Remoe also tackles gender representation in her books. The main characters in the series are girls.

“Girls are underrepresented in children’s books, just as women are in governance and in the workplace,” said Remoe, Save The Children Sierra Leone Girls Ambassador.

“When girls see themselves in books, it builds their self-esteem.”

Yanoh Jalloh, a Sierra Leonean-American parent who bought A Print For Ami on Amazon said the book connects her daughter to her culture.

“My daughter loves that she has people that look like her in books, and even more excited that the main character in the book shares her lineage.”

A Print for Ami is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and it will be available in Sierra Leone with book retailers in October 2021.


  1. It’s really important to introduce children to early reading, sure I am in support that most of our school going people in both primary and secondary Schools cannot read and understand what they have been reading. This is also a factor contributing to the failure of both National and external examination. I hope the book is of standard and it will help change the narrative of people in Sierra Leone towards education.

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