Stacey Fru, a South African International Multiple Award-Winning Child Author named a 2020 Global Child Prodigy. She is a Philanthropist and Activist whom at the age of 12 was honoured by the Egyptian President as one of 5 Most Promising African Youths in 2019. The now 13-year-old Stacey wrote her first book “Smelly Cats” at age 7. She has since dedicated a portion of her life to reach out and to inspire and edutain people of various ages across the world. With over 20 Awards and Recognitions, Stacey has published 5 Chapter Books and still writing. Stacey’s first book is approved by the South African Department of Basic Education as suitable for children of all ages through to primary schools.
Stacey who is the youngest founding member of the Centre for Multilingual Education at Wits University in Johannesburg and the youngest TEDx speaker in Africa, has made speaking appearances in various capacities in different institutions in Africa, Asia and Europe. She was the youngest speaker at the World Literacy Summit at Oxford University in Oxford, United Kingdom in April 2020. A special attribute about Stacey’s writings is that one of her books is available in Braille, and Blind SA adopted one of her short stories as their reading for World Read Aloud Day 2020.
Since Muna Kalati is promoting Children and Young Adult authors, it was an immense pleasure to gather her views in this regard. In this interview, she openly speaks about her first reading experiences, the authors that inspired her, her reading practices and vision for the development of children literature in Africa.
Join us in the journey…
We are glad to interview you as a writer of children books and a global literacy advocate. So, let’s start with the beginning, going back to your childhood, what type of reader were you which authors stick with you most? How have your reading tastes changed over time?
As a child I was an avid reader, I read books by David Walliams, Rachel Renee Russell and Roald Dalh and those authors have had great impact on my work. My reading taste has changed overtime. Although I still prefer fiction my tastes revolve around more realistic aspects.
What were the first children’s books you read? Were they African? What did these reading practices teach you as a child?
Although I cannot recall my first book, I am 100% sure that it was not African. Reading as a child helped me develop my strong passion for reading that I still hold with myself today.
Why did you become interested in the world of children’s books? Is it a choice or a stroke of fate?
I became interested in children’s books because that was my main exposure and at my age it was the only thing, I was interested in but as seen in my work, my writing style has changed along with my tastes. I think that my writing is not a stroke of fate or choice, but it grows as I do.
What books are on your nightstand?
To kill a mockingbird, A snowbound scandal, Bodyguard: hostage, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry
Could you describe your ideal reading experience?
My ideal reading experience in a bed, the floor or on a comfortable couch. I prefer to have a blanket regardless of weather. I would usually lie on my tummy with my elbows below my chest and the book slightly below me.
Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?
I admire many people, Angie Thomas, John Green and Anthony Horowitz to name a few.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
John Green, Franz Kafka and William Shakespeare
What moves you most in a work of literature?
The authors honesty and their ability to display emotions in an effective way.
How do you organize your books? Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Your favorite antihero or villain?
In my books there is always a hidden antagonist with their motives, I have no favorites. My favorite fictional villain not from my work would be the system of oppression in The Hate U Give and my favourite hero would be Alex Rider.
In an illustrated book, how central is the art to its success or failure, and what’s the relationship between art and text in your mind?
I believe as they are children’s books, by seeing pictures, it makes it interesting to even children not yet able to read because they are fascinated by the pictures and it is adults duty to read and explain the images to them.
In Africa, the children’s book sector is not well known to the public and especially to parents. How do you explain this phenomenon?
Lately in South Africa, many child authors are emerging. People are getting to know them, and parents are supporting their children to have their works published and this has great impact on aspiring child writers, and I see more children books becoming available on the market.
What is your vision for the future of children’s literature in your country?
It is going to be huge and people are must support the children
Any last word?
Every African Children must be able to read and write
Since Stacey was a speaker at the World Literacy Summit and a literacy advocate, we do understand her position. Below are few facts showing the critical relevance of promoting literacy for:
- If all children globally learned to read, 171 million fewer people would live in poverty.
- During the past four decades, under-five child mortality has been reduced by more than half— a fact that can be attributed to the increase in women’s literacy.
- Society recoups $ 7,14 for every $1 dollar invested in adult literacy One extra year of schooling increases an individual’s earnings by up to 10%. No country has achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without at least 40% of adults being able to read and write.
- Participation in adult literacy programs correlates with increased participation in trade unions, community action, and national political life.
- Educated mothers are 50% more likely to immunize their children than mothers with no schooling. The better older adults are able to read, understand, and use health and medical information, the happier they are.
We thank Stacey for dedicating time to participate in this interview! We have learned more about your experience as a child writer and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
We hope this would inspire many other kids, young adults, and adults to venture unto writing for we need to produce more African stories, projecting the real picture of Africa.
If you are a parent with a kid who has a passion for writing, we invite you to read this article on the role of Victory Fru, the mother of Stacey who is advising and support her to achieve her dreams.
You could order one or many of her books on Amazon or using the details below: