I discovered this new amazing blogger, Eddie Nortey of PapaNorr’s Story Time through my publisher Nana Awere Damoah of Dakpabli & Associates. Nana sent me a link to Eddie Nortey reading from my book, The Contest and Other Spiderman Tales, and I enjoyed Eddie Nortey’s, I read so much that I proceeded to listen to several of his other videos. He came across as warm, engaging, and funny, and he seemed to enjoy the stories he read himself. I was curious to know more, so, I reached out to him. Here’s more of our conversation.
Q: How did you first get started with blogging? What motivated you to start a YouTube channel?
A: Seven months ago here in Osaka Japan, I sat listening to one of my friends read to his students. He had started an after-school class in his home. I was horrified. The reading was flat, uninteresting, and boring. I sat wincing in my chair, then the idea hit me. If you don’t have the resource to start a school, how about a channel on YouTube to read to kids and young adults? That’s how my journey started.
Q: Why did you choose to read children’s literature on your YouTube channel?
A: Well, I did a little research, and found that these days, parents and grandparents don’t have enough time on their hands to read to their kids as was done for some of us growing up. So, my motivation was to bridge that gap using technology and bring the family together while at it.
Q: What kind of children’s literature do you tend to focus on? Is there an age range that interests you and what informs your choice of a book? Do you have a specific strategy?
A: My interest is in ages 0 – 13 and young adults. I like children’s books that are not only illustrated but are captivating, educative, informative, and straight to the point. An example is The Chewing Stick by Hana Adomako, and Kofi and the Poisoned River by Nana Ama Buckman – the latter educating us on our culture as well. My strategy for choosing books to read is simple. I depend on my author friends to point me in the right direction. Some inform me when a book is being launched, then buy it and send it to me. One book is currently on its way to me from Accra. I also try to surf the net, amazon, and many other children’s book sites, read reviews, and make a choice to buy or not.
Q: In your opinion, what makes a great children’s book?
A: When a kid sees a book, it must catch their attention. The illustrations must be captivating, and the book’s first few paragraphs must grab attention.
Q: Please tell us where you are from. How does your country of origin – Ghana, influence your choice of books to read on your channel?
A: I’m from Osu in Ghana. Growing up I heard many Ananse stories from my granny and my stepmom. My dad also bought me quite a few Ghanaian books. So, that’s my first love. But I certainly would read any other book from another country as you attest to on my channel.
Q: What kind of books would you like to see more of, targeted at children in Ghana and Africa as a whole, and why?
A: I would like to see more books that tell our history, promote our heroes and heroines, and inform us about our culture. That way one day when we are no more, the next generation can accurately pass on the TRUTH to those coming after them.
Q: Please tell us about your followers. Who are they and what strategies do you use to interact with them and grow your community?
A: Well, my target is the young ones and young adults, But since they can’t access my content by themselves, I target the parents and guardians. Ninety percent of my followers are friends and relatives, and their friends and relatives. So, it’s a web of family and friends who have kids or have kids in their care. The majority know my email & Facebook details and some also comment directly on the channel.
Q: How do you balance work on your channel with other commitments, such as work and family?
A: It’s quite simple really. I do most of my recordings on the weekends and public holidays. My daughter and my second son handle the light and camera for me. We mostly record three, four sometimes five books in a row.
Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when starting out, and how did you overcome them?
A: The biggest was audio and lightning. Fortunately, I had a gentleman friend back home in Ghana who systematically walked me through getting it right with the light, audio, and camera. So, I brought him on board to do the editing for me.
Q: Children love to have stories read to them. Did your children enjoy listening to you read? Do they ever suggest any books or make comments about your channel?
A: Oh yes! I introduced books to them at an early age. This has turned my eldest son into a bookworm – he can finish a novel in a week. They certainly enjoy the books that I read to them growing up. They do listen and watch the channel, and they have gotten some of their high school and university friends to subscribe and watch. The name ‘PapaNorr’s Story Time’ for example was coined by my daughter. So they are very much hands-on with me on this journey.
Q: What kind of stories do you personally enjoy reading the most?
A: Personally I enjoy books full of suspense, I also enjoy books with courtroom action and drama.
Q: What are your plans for the future of your blog?
A: Currently, my plan is to read as many books as I can and get permission to read them. Also, I plan to interview some of the authors whose books I’ve read so far to spice up the channel.
Q: Are there any new projects or initiatives you are working on?
A: My work, the channel, family, and ministry have filled my time. But after the year’s second quarter, I shall meet with the team to see the way forward.
Thanks to Eddie Nortey for this interview! Do check out his PapaNorr’s Story Time YouTube channel for more stories. Let’s support the bloggers who promote children’s literature by African authors, within this continent and beyond. It’s the least we can do to thank them for bringing valuable stories into our homes.
Here is an additional link suggested to me by Eddie Nortey. Here he is reading Ruby Yayra Goka’s The Step Monster (Chapter 2). Click this link to listen on YouTube.