Sewela Langeni, the owner of Book Circle Capital, an independent bookshop that focuses on African literature has written a children’s book. Making Friends With Feelings is described as a compassionate story that teaches boys that it is okay to cry when you are sad and that is healthy to express emotions. Published by New Africa Books and illustrated by Subi Bosa the book is also available in 11 South African languages. We sat down with Sewela to ask her a few questions about the book.
Q: How did this book come about?
A: The book was inspired by raising my two sons, watching them grow, and sometimes battling to express their feelings. Another inspiration behind the book is that as a bookseller. I always get questions from other parents raising boys looking for books that represent the boy child.
Q: What went into putting this book together?
A: I first thought of the idea early last year and in April 2022 I drafted a story. Thereafter I consulted a fellow author and a sister of mine Lorato Trok who is an accomplished storyteller. She guided me through the process, by helping me to understand how to write for a young audience. I then approached New Africa Books who have a great track record in publishing local kiddies books to publish the book. The process of editing back and forth went on until the early part of this year.
Q: What age range is it geared towards?
A: Making Friends With Feelings is a picture book that is targeted at all children ages 4- 8.
Q: Why do you think it important to have boys learn, at an early age, that it is healthy to cry?
A: We need to challenge traditional norms that boys and men who cry or share how they feel are weak. Research has shown that creating spaces where boys and men can share how they feel improves their mental health and the role they play in their families and society. So, I think it is important that we start imparting these lessons at a young age.
Q: Why should parents purchase this book for their children?
A: It’s a beautiful story that is available in all 11 South African languages. Though it was inspired by my boy children it can be read by all children. Throughout the book, parents, guardians, teachers and librarians will be able to spark life-changing conversations with children about their emotions. I have been receiving positive feedback from parents, aunts and uncles who have already read this book to the children in their lives, boys and girls and it’s been a great conversation starter about feelings and imagination.
Q: What are you enjoying the most about the process of having a book?
A: Seeing the first draft of illustrations and showing it to my boys for the first time. Watching their faces see the illustrations and them guessing which character represents them the most was priceless. Our children need to consume content where they see themselves in it – representation.
Copies of the book are available at Book Circle Capital, in Melville 27 Boxes, or online – click here to buy a copy.