On Saturday December 3, a book launch was held at Tagh’eer Creative Space for ‘Wolfie’, a children’s book written by Sonya Rehman and published by ZUKA Books.
Sonya Rehman is a Pakistani journalist based in Lahore. She has written and worked for various international and local media organisations since 2002 such as Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal and The Friday Times. She has also taught journalism and English at both the school and college level. She has also written books before, most notably Embroidering Dreams, 50 years of Empowering Women and Preserving the Craft of Needlework.
The launch started off with a reading by Sonya who was able to capture the attention of the children at the event, which is no small feat considering the average child’s attention span.
During the Q and A session, Sonya was asked why she had written such a book and why the focus was the promotion of animal rights aspect of it. Sonya responded by saying that she had always loved animals and she herself had rescued five stray dogs and kept them as pets.
“I had always wanted to write a children’s book”, she said. Sonya also spoke about how her depression during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 galvanized her to write the book to keep her from any further mental suffering. She further commented that once during her time creating a curriculum for grades One to Three in a major school network (where she was working), she had noticed that the local school curriculum put too much emphasis on rote memorisation or ‘rata’ as it is called by most in Pakistan, rather than focusing on independent thinking and understanding.
She hoped that her book would encourage a genuine appreciation for knowledge and understanding amongst young children rather than viewing reading and consequently studies purely as repetitive and uninteresting.
Furthermore, she stated that the key aims of her book and its story was to promote empathy for animals as Pakistan has a debilitating culture of treating animals terribly and only caring for them if they are ‘purebred’ and valuable in monetary terms.
Sonya also spoke about the need to instill self-belief in children because she earnestly believed that one of the main reasons why most children in Pakistan suffer from high rates of bullying, failure and dropouts is due to the fact that those around them are either ignorant of the need or do not know how to encourage them to believe in themselves, their abilities, their potential and their talents, whatever they may be.