20 June 2018

South Africa: Trevor Noah's 'Born a Crime' Audio Book Available to All Students in Newark Public Schools, U.S

Photo: OfficialTrevorNoah
Trevor Noah's book Born A Crime.

South African comedian, Trevor Noah's book Born a Crime is being taught in some U.S. schools. The book was also made into an audio book, and it's available to all high school students in Newark, New Jersey. Could South African students also benefit if the book is adopted into the curriculum?

Trevor Noah's book Born a Crime book, a best seller in the United States and all over the world is being taught in American schools. The book's audio version was made available in public schools in Newark, New Jersey, U.S. Narrated by Trevor Noah, the audiobook is 8 hours and 50 minutes long.

Audible Inc., the world's largest seller and producer of digital spoken-word entertainment collaborated with all Newark Public Schools under "Project Listen Up," creating a city-wide listening of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.

"We are thrilled that Born a Crime, with its trenchant insights about race, class and the effects of apartheid, and its brilliant narration, is available to all Newark students through Project Listen Up. Our students are also forging their identities at a time of great change and we are hoping everyone, even teachers, can find something to relate to in Trevor Noah's powerful story and voice," said Robert Gregory, Interim Superintendent of Newark Public Schools.

The audio version has received good reviews, with The Washington Post saying: "The author's gift for vocal impersonation elevates the audio version into something even more splendid than an already terrific memoir."

While the book is not yet part of the high school curriculum in South Africa, it would be beneficial for learners to have such an important book as a prescribed text. There are arguments that the history of Apartheid is still contested and taught in a problematic manner. Race is a big issue in America, as W.E.B Du Bois rightly said, the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the colour line, and Noah's political and social commentary is an important voice.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, when asked of his reaction to his book being made part of the school curriculum Noah said, "To go from a kid who was always in trouble for something or other, to now have my book being taught in school is quite a jump. I don't think the book is a product of myself, but rather me telling a story comprised of many stories. Part of it is South Africa's story, part of it is my family's story, my mother's story, the lessons she taught me."

The book will be adapted into film, with Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o playing the role of Trevor's mother. Lupita also posted on Instagram that she couldn't drop the book down when she started reading it, testimony of it's gripping storyline.

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