Broadcaster Nagwa Elgebily’s ‘MoneyKind’ books fascinate young readers

With a career spanning more than four decades as a presenter and content creator at BBC Arabic, 69-year-old Nagwa Elgebily is a familiar voice and trusted storyteller to countless listeners around the world.

However, it is her latest venture into children’s books that has captured the hearts of young readers and their families alike.

Her fascination with currency, sparked by a cherished Egyptian 10 piastres coin given as a ‘celebration gift’, has grown into a tapestry of stories in which coins embark on adventures rich with life lessons.

When the BBC’s Arabic radio service closed, Ms Elgebily, a native of Dakahlia, Egypt, and grandmother of two, tried to share her love of coins with people outside her family.

The stories of the money type was what followed.

The project started when her grandchildren encouraged her to turn her stories into written stories they could share with friends.

Her books sell more than 100 copies a month and are available on Amazon and Kindle. They are mainly aimed at audiences in Great Britain and the US.

“I received the coin as a ‘celebration gift’ – ‘edia’ – like adults do with children after the month of Ramadan. It was the first time I had my own currency,” Ms Elgebily said.

She described “falling in love” with the coin and defied the habit of spending it on sweets.

“Coins tell me their stories and I started to invent their lives,” Ms. Elgebily said.

The series introduces readers to a universe where Coins are characters with personalities, emotions, and stories to tell.

She is currently working on publishing the stories in Arabic, tailoring some specifically for Arab children. She is in talks with publishers in the UAE and Egypt to release her eight published stories.

The most recent story, Ramadan and the Red Ten Piasters is currently being illustrated.

Each book is a story that delves into themes such as kindness, friendship, tolerance and diversity.

“They told me their stories and I started to invent their lives and ‘came up’ with the name MoneyKind, parallel to humanity, at a later date when I started writing the stories seriously,” she said. The national one.

She believes her ability to anthropomorphize coins, giving them life and voice, allows children to see the world from a different perspective, promoting empathy and understanding.

One of the striking stories, Bullying the chocolate cointackles the serious problem of bullying through the experiences of a 5p chocolate coin.

Found in the Christmas stocking of a kind-hearted girl named Katy, the chocolate coin faces the wrath of a dominant mint. This story is not only about the pain of being bullied, but also highlights the importance of resilience, the power of self-esteem and the transformation that understanding and tolerance can bring.

“Right now I have a story about wooden coins that were used as legal tender in the US in the 1930s during the Great Depression,” she said.

She often incorporates unusual or intriguing aspects of coins directly into her stories, giving her characters depth and authenticity.

“I have a story about the surprised Russian ruble getting a mint mark through a public vote after being confused about its entity for a long time, which is a true story,” she said. “The ruble sign was chosen by a public vote in Russia. .”

School and library visits to connect with her readers

Growing up as one of six siblings, education was of utmost importance in Mrs. Elgebily’s family.

“We were always pushed to express ourselves and discover our talents in every way possible,” she says.

Ms. Elgebily’s series serves as an educational journey through the world of currency, offering young readers insight into the history, value and meaning of coins across cultures.

“I visit schools in Britain to read and perform some of my stories,” she said.

“But before we do that, I talk to my audience about money and its history over the years, how it has developed and where we are now with the new technology that rules our lives.”

At a World Book Day event at a local school, children listened and absorbed valuable knowledge about currency through the stories.

“At the end of each story I include a section with facts about the coins mentioned in the story, or relevant facts and places where the story took place,” she added.

From ideas to books

The journey to publish the stories was not easy.

“My stories were rejected many times because they were considered too ‘abstract’,” she said.

Ms. Elgebily chose to self-publish her books.

“The response has been really great. I have been invited to libraries and schools to talk about money and my experiences and to read and act out scenes from my books. I am hopeful that the MoneyKinds series will eventually be adapted into animated shorts,” she said.

Her performances in libraries and schools, combined with interactive lectures, allow children to interact with coins from around the world, further enriching their learning experience.

Ms. Elgebily’s journey has taught her the importance of perseverance and passion in her profession, leading her to advise, “Don’t give up. Keep reading and writing. Enjoy what you do, and your readers will enjoy what you write.”

Updated: March 7, 2024, 8:04 AM

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