BY THE BOOK: Selam Teshome

Writer Selam Teshome, 13, who published her first book at 10 years old. PHOTO | VALERIE KOGA

What you need to know:

  • I have read so many books; I can’t count.
  • My most memorable books are by Mildred D. Taylor. Taylor’s books are about the African-American struggle and they are so beautifully written.
  • I enjoy fiction, and especially fiction books based on historical events.

Selam Teshome, a published Kenyan author, is only 13 years old. She has a passion for writing, sports and debate; and her love for reading is undeniable as she excitedly talks about the wide range of books she has read. The author of In The Land of Shammah hopes to publish her second book soon. She talks to Nation.co.ke.

 

How many have you read since the beginning of the year?

I have read so many; I can’t count. Recently I have read Coming to Birth by Marjorie Macgoye-Oludhe, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, a few books by Enid Blyton, and I almost finished Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, but it’s quite difficult to understand. But the most recent one, which I have just completed, is The River and The Source by Margaret Ogola.

 

How often do you read? How many books do you read on average?

I can’t say how many books I read on average; it just depends on the time of the year. When I’m in school, it depends on my schedule. I am involved in many extracurricular activities such as badminton, swimming, football and debate, and I also have my studies. So mostly I get reading time after I have completed my homework and done my activities.

 

What is your favourite genre?

I enjoy fiction, and especially books based on historical events.

 

Among the books you have read, which are the most memorable?

My most memorable books are by Mildred D. Taylor. They are Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, which is about racism in America and touches on how the country changed from slavery; and Mississippi Bridge, which is about the fight against segregation and racial injustice.

There’s also Let the Circle be Unbroken. Taylor’s books are about the African-American struggle and they are so beautifully written.

 

What are your most treasured books? Would you lend them out?

It is really difficult to choose, because I find most of my books really awesome. But if I was to choose, I would say Like Water for Chocolate which centres around a girl, Tita, who has a deep connection with food and a love for cooking.

The second would be Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and The River and the Source are fighting for the same spot. And there’s also Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson.

Yes, I would lend them out because I want people to experience the stories and feel the same joy in reading them, just as I have.

In fact, currently, I have lent out Jane Eyre and Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry.

 

If you were to be a character in any of the books you’ve read, which one would you choose?

Cassie Logan in Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry. Cassie is resilient, strong-willed and determined, and I like the way she protects her younger brother.

 

What book are you currently reading?

I’m reading two at a go; Gifted Hands by Ben Carson and Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen.

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