73,481 children took part in the Storymoja National Read Aloud Campaign that took place on June 16, 2021. The world record was not broken. This time.

On June 16, recognised continentally as the day of the African child, children from across Kenya took part in the Storymoja National Read Aloud Campaign. The campaign was an official attempt at the Guinness World Record for most people reading aloud at one point in a country. In Kenya, the attempt has been made with an unofficial world record of 229,043 children from 1,097 schools across 44 counties reading an assigned text in 2015.

The 2021 edition of the read aloud campaign kicked off with Auma Obama as patron and many organisations coming aboard as partners. These included All For Books, the Kenyan Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage, DTB (Diamond Trust Bank), Dada Digital, Elimu Fanaka, Kenya Connect, Lulu FM, Goethe Institut, Maramoja Transport, Writers Guild, and many others. With the partnerships being secured there were activities like online awareness events like Tweet-a-thons, moderated discussions, and more. It looked promising.

June 16 came and at the set time, we were treated to images of children reading the assigned book Attack of the Shidas by Muthoni Muchemi from all over the country on social media. You can watch some of the children reading in the below video;

After results of the campaign were collated and verified, the numbers have been shared by our friends at Storymoja. They say;

“Out of the 1,043 schools/libraries that registered to participate, so far we have received verified reports from 577 schools. We will continue to make efforts to get the remaining reports, however in the interest of time we have decided to use the verified reports already in our possession as the official results. A total of 73,481 participants in the 577 schools across 40 counties have been verified.”

It is not a world record number as you can imagine. This can be attributed to several factors according to Storymoja;

“While we aimed for the stars in the drive to break a world record, we must admit to the challenges occasioned by the pandemic control guidelines such as social distancing, limited sharing of reading materials, lockdowns in some counties, and the general hesitation to take part in an event that could bring together groups of learners. The milestone we have achieved is testament that in normal circumstances, we shall definitely set a new world record! And we are already planning for it! We hope you will join us in the quest in 2022.”

It didn’t happen this year but that we were able to involve so many in the exercise in spite of the challenges.

We’ll get them next year.