We all love kicking back and bingeing our favourite TV show or YouTube series, and there’s no shame in that.
But doing it on repeat has consequences.
Looking at screens can damage the eyes, the muscles that support them, and the brain, causing fatigue and headaches which can inhibit aspects of child development.
Cue Aiyven and Kirsten Mbawa flying in on their magic reading rug.
These superhero sisters, aged 12 and 13, are on a mission to open eyes and broaden minds by promoting reading for pleasure and diversity awareness.
The dream team curate book boxes for four to 14-year-olds to help them discover the power of imagination that lurks inside them and can be unlocked with stories.
We caught up with Aiyven and Kirsten to find out about their personal journey, their thirst for words, and what led to the idea to start their project.
They said: “In May 2019, we entered the BBC 500-word short story competition. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but we went on to post book reviews on YouTube.
“From then, we decided we wanted a way to bring a community of readers together and share the joys of reading for pleasure as well as promote diversity.”
The girls added: “We also could not find many subscription boxes which did this for tweens and young teens, so decided to make our own box: Happier Every Chapter.”
Jam-packed with best-selling books, activity sheets, short stories, stationary, treats and lifestyle items, the boxes really are a force to be reckoned with.
All you need to do to embrace some bookish joy is subscribe, then wait for the adventures to begin as the box is delivered to your door.
Reflecting on how literacy has had such a big impact on their outlook, Aiyven and Kirsten credit it with giving them a different perspective of people’s differences, as well as improving their empathy, vocabulary, and academic performance.
The girls said: “Something else we’ve found reading has helped with is improving our imaginations. It almost gives you a third eye and makes you more observant.
“A story could come from anywhere, for example, a woman walking down the street might not just be a person, they could be a stay-at-home mum who has given up a high-flying career to focus on her family as she wants the best for them.”
Chatting to the sisters, their passion for books is infectious and they hope to pass this onto others so they too feel the sense of joy that the girls get curating each box.
Aiyven and Kirsten said: “We put so much care and effort into choosing the best things to go inside our box; from the reviews, videos and pictures.”
When asked how they would like reading to be embraced within schools, not just at home, the duo say it should be used as a tool to educate and reduce discrimination.
They concluded: “In schools, especially primary, diversity is not taught enough. It’s so important to learn about different cultures other than your own because many kids get the wrong idea about ethnic minorities as they are not taught otherwise.
“Even in secondary schools, like our own, there are so many more things to talk about other than the Anglo Saxons and Queen Victoria! It’s so important that diversity is talked about, as a lot of discrimination comes from lack of education.”
We only wish we had these role models around when we were younger.
To hear more about the reading boxes, click here: Happier Every Chapter.