Broadcaster Nagwa Elgebily's 'MoneyKind' books captivate young readers

Children's stories with coins as characters encourage financial literacy through captivating adventures

Nagwa Elgebily author of Stories of The MoneyKind. Credit: Nagwa Elgebily
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With a career spanning over four decades as an anchor and content creator at BBC Arabic, Nagwa Elgebily, 69, has been a familiar voice and trusted storyteller to countless listeners around the world.

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

Her fascination with currency, kindled by a cherished Egyptian 10 piastres coin given as a “feast gift”, has blossomed into a tapestry of stories where coins embark on adventures rich with life lessons.

As the BBC's Arabic radio service closed, Ms Elgebily, who is from Dakahlia, Egypt, and a grandmother of two, looked to share her love for coins with those outside her family.

The Stories of The MoneyKind was what followed.

The project took off when her grandchildren encouraged her to transform her tales 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 primarily aimed at audiences in the UK and the US.

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

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

“Coins tell me their stories and I started inventing their life,” 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 releasing 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 narrative that delves into themes of kindness, friendship, tolerance and diversity.

“They tell me their stories and I started inventing their life and ‘coined’ the name MoneyKind, parallel to Humankind, at a later time when I started seriously writing the stories,” she told The National.

She believes her ability to anthropomorphise coins, giving them life and voice, enables children to see the world from a different perspective, fostering empathy and understanding.

One of the standout stories, Bullying the Chocolate Coin, tackles the serious issue of bullying through the experiences of a chocolate 5p coin.

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

“At the moment I'm stuck with a story about wood coins which were used as legal tender in the US in the 1930s during the time of the Great Depression,” she said.

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

“I have a story about the puzzled Russian rouble who gets a currency sign by public vote after a long time being confused about his entity, which is a true story,” she said. “The rouble 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 paramount in Ms Elgebily's family.

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

Her series serves as an educational journey into the world of international currency, offering young readers insights into the history, value, and significance of coins across cultures.

“I visit schools in the UK to read and act 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 developed and where are we now with the new technology ruling our lives.”

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

“I enclose a section at the end of each story which has facts about the coins mentioned in the story or relevant facts and places where the story happened,” she added.

From ideas to books

The journey to publish the stories wasn't an easy one.

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

Ms Elgebily decided to self-publish her books.

“The response is great, really. I have been invited to libraries and schools to talk about money, my experience, and read and act scenes from my books.

“I'm hopeful that the MoneyKind series will eventually be adapted into short animations,” she said.

Ms Elgebily's journey has taught her the importance of perseverance and passion, leading her to advise: “Don't give up. Keep on reading and writing. Enjoy what you are doing, and your readers will enjoy what you're writing.”

Updated: March 07, 2024, 3:33 PM