By Taylah Eastwell
A Ferntree Gully father has published a children’s book in hopes that it will give kids a new perspective of cultural awareness.
Percy Shozi has always worn many hats. He is a father, a poet, a musician – but one thing he is extremely proud of is publishing his first children’s book recently.
Mr Shozi said his inspiration for his book, Who Am I? came from his daughters, five-year-old Nala and three-year-old Zara.
“I want my girls to grow up seeing kids that look like them in books. I want them to see brown superheroes and strong brown girls. Growing up in Africa I never saw kids that looked like me, or houses that looked like mine in books. Sadly, little has changed. I searched through all my local bookshops and libraries and I found a very limited number of books with diverse characters. I decided to do something about it. For my kids,” he said.
Who Am I? is the first book in Shozi’s upcoming series titled Zola the Zulu Girl. The series tells the story of Zola – a young girl growing up in Australia exploring her African roots. His first publication allows children to learn all about Zola and the wonderful things she likes to do.
“It encourages them about their identity and knowing who they are. My oldest is starting school soon and kids do all sorts of things in school that we do not have control over as parents and I feel if they know who they are and their identity they will manage to survive,” he said.
Mr Shozi said his series will cover topics such as missing family overseas and learning about culture.
“When children see characters who are different to them, it builds empathy and appreciation for difference,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of emails and feedback since publishing the book with people saying they wish this was here when they were growing up, it just shows it was needed in the market and I feel privileged to have filled that gap.
A review on Mr Shozi’s website says “the books arrived yesterday and my daughter was so happy that Zola ‘has hair just like hers!”.
But the most important review of all was that of his two girls, with Mr Shozi happy to report his two girls love his book.
“They’ve memorised it, they love it and want to read it all the time. They are really good at memorising books and it’s great to see the message is coming across,” he said.
Who Am I? is now on sale at https://www.percyspoems.com/online-store/Who-Am-I-p264567491