It’s timely to visit some literacy programmes that are running successfully around the world as we are currently halfway through the United Nation’s Literacy Decade (2003-2012). Literacy as Freedom is the theme. Presently, around the world there are 774 million illiterate adults (64% women) and 75 million children who have no access to school. Literacy is a human right. Basic education, within which literacy is the key learning tool, was recognised as a human right over 50 years ago, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Last year Yohannes Gebregeorgis of EthiopiaReads was nominated as a CNN Hero of the Year for his work in bringing free public libraries and literacy programmes to thousands of Ethiopian children. His story is inspiring, fleeing Ethiopia to the US as a political refugee, he trained as a children’s librarian and on realising there were no children’s books in Amharic, the primary language of Ethiopia, he wrote the first bilingual book for Ethiopian children. In 1988 he established Ethiopia Reads and moved back to Ethiopia in 2002.
Room to Read was founded by overworked Microsoft executive, John Wood, who on a 1998 trip to Nepal was inspired to help bring books to rural schools. Now Room to Read supports local language publishing and establishes reading rooms in schools throughout Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South Africa and Zambia – all countries lacking in resources for children’s education.
Every two years IBBY’s Asahi Reading Programme Award is given to institutions or organisations for outstanding activities that promote reading to children or young people. In 2008 Bakame Editions from Rwanda shared the award with Action with Lao Children. As the culture of reading is not part of Rwandan tradition, Bakame has introduced activities to help children acquire a love of reading such as Bibliothèque en route (project rucksack library) which gives pupils access to books and practice in reading where there are no libraries.
In 1982 Ms Chanthasone Inthavong, from Laos, but then living in Japan, established the Association for Sending Picture Books to Lao Children which grew into Action with Lao Children, a reading promotion that distributes books to Lao children in remote areas, increasing the number of library rooms called ‘Love to read’ (Hak Arn) in schools and preschools in Laos and gives support to nurturing their own writers, teachers and publishers.
One of the 2006 Asahi Award winners was a national reading promotion – All of Poland Reads to Kids. Inspired by an article about Jim Trelease of The Read Aloud Handbook, the program’s motto is '20 minutes a day’. The concept was brought to Poland seven years ago from the United States by Irena Koý|minska, the wife of Poland’s former ambassador in Washington.
World Literacy Day is on 8 September each year.
- Kerry Aluf.
I noticed an increasing number of popup books both for classic children’s books and non-fiction titles on a recent bookshop visit. Some of the books, such as Maurice Sendak’s Mommy?, are works of art with intricate paper engineering. I decided to explore the web to see what is happening in the world of moveable and popup books and here are some amazing sites, which showcase the history and construction of the moveable book, as well as teach you how to make your own popup creation.
- Crissi Blair.
If you want to find out about children’s books in New Zealand a great place to get information is from the publishers’ websites. Most of the main publishers, and many smaller ones, have well organised sites with information about the books and the authors and illustrators who create them.
HarperCollins supplements the usual book and author information with an excellent selection of reading notes for the teachers out there and long interesting interviews with many of their authors. Random House also features teacher resource kits, and submission guidelines.
A couple of relatively new publishers to check out are:
- Crissi Blair.
Usually the domain of the young, podcasts, mp3s and online video have also become more mainstream and it is possible to access some interesting interviews with popular authors. These audio files are also portable and if you own an ipod or mp3 player you can download and listen away from your computer. Wikipedia is helpful for finding out more about podcasts and mp3s.
If you want to subscribe to some of the online radio chat shows about books such as on Guardian online, you will need to have suitable software such as itunes. The chance to hear a favourite author talk about their latest book is irresistible. Even when an international author visits New Zealand, usually fleetingly, chances to see them are often remote especially if you live away from the main centres.
A quick search of the internet turned up some great listening links:
- Crissi Blair.