Bringing Indian’s Rich Culture to Children’s Bookshelves
Recently an article was published in the Tribune that focuses on how children’s literature in India has, for a long time, been viewed as insignificant and lacking in intrigue. This is something that many of India’s book lovers are looking to change. The article titled “Indian Kidlit: More Than Child’s Play” was written by Vibha Sharma and incorporates a number of perspectives from Indian authors, publishers and young readers. India has always been a country that has vast diversity in language and culture; this is reflected in the many traditional art forms found throughout the country. For a number of reasons, India, a land of many myths and stories and many diverse art forms has only just begun to integrate these things into children’s books. As the article explains, “Thanks to various publishing houses, Indian children are being introduced to their own land which is known for its multi-linguistic and multi-cultural character. Gond, Warli, Madhubani, Kalamkari are just a few of the regional art forms which are finding their way out of the darkness of anonymity and extinction to the printed pages of the children’s books now.” Many of the challenges the Indian book industry is facing are around accessibility. If they can find ways to bring these new culturally rich Indian stories to young readers, their hope is that they will change the way Indian Children’s Books have been stereotyped and bring more of their own stories to light. As Praba Ram, an Indian author, explained in the article: “stories can serve as a wonderful tool to bridge cultures and to see our common humanity. Story sessions sponsored by the Indian cultural organizations could be a neat platform to share our land’s rich story heritage. Not just religious and mythological stories, but modern ones too that aptly portray India’s diverse social landscape that come out of India, would be a great way to share Indian literature.”
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Image by Chris Turnham
Celebrating Nelson Mandela’s Birthday in All the Right Ways
July 18th marked Nelson Mandela’s 95th Birthday, and an article from the African Business Review featured one company’s work to pay tribute to Mandela’s dream for universal access to education. “During his tenure as President of South Africa, millions of children were brought into the education system. This was a demonstration of Mandela’s commitment to his belief that ‘education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’”. The Article, titled Education is a Powerful Weapon to Honor Mandiba, was written by Sheree Hanna and really shows the commitment of MTN, (one of Africa’s largest telecommunications companies) to make a difference in the lives of children across Africa. The company has helped to donate large amounts of school supplies, many varied and extensive classroom and office spaces. MTN even sponsors children going to University. This is a company that is taking huge steps to give back and help communities throughout Africa. With this work, they are helping to change the world and the lives of many children, for the better. They are also showing great respect and paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, a man with a great, lasting vision for Africa and the world.
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I recently came across an article on allAfrica.com that featured Deborah Ahenkorah’s influential work as founder of Golden Baobab. The interview with Ahenkorah, titled Ghana:Bringing African Voices to Childrens Literature, was conducted by AllAfrica’s Leon Ong’onge. As Ong’onge explains, “Golden Baobab, an organization that has fostered the creation of more than 850 stories for children and young adults since its inception five years ago … is now renowned for its annual Golden Baobab Literary Prize.” The interview began by asking what inspired Ahenkorah to start Golden Baobab, she responded “Children’s literature is very important to me. Before I started Golden Baobab, I had started another organization that promoted literacy on the African continent by collecting donated books and raising money in the United States to support schools and libraries across Africa. That work was great, but I realized that I could have greater impact if I made books that children would relate to because they reflected their cultural identity. I think if you are able to make children love reading, they can discover the joy of reading at an early age and a lot of adult literacy problems would then be solved. Also, books allow children the opportunity to have a childhood full of joy, laughter and imagination, which is not available to many children on the continent.” The interview also touches on how a person could submit their story for the Golden Baobab Literary Prize, what challenges Ahenkorah has faced working to achieve her mission, and what plans she has in store for future projects. Ahenkorah is an amazing woman who does great work. Not only is she the founder of Golden Baobab but also a World Economic Forum Global Shaper for Accra, Ghana, and the recent recipient of the New Voices Fellowship from the Aspen Institute for her work to improve child literacy. As she explains, “We are essentially putting out a call to action for like-minded people to come together and help us make this vision a reality because African children deserve this future. If we can put our hands together and make this happen that would be really beautiful!”
To read the full interview follow this link:
Photo: Aspen Institute
If An Antelope Could Fly
I recently read an article written by Josh O’Leary of the Iowa City Press-Citizen, that is titled “Bringing the Books to the Kids”. The story is based in Iowa City and is about the community’s work to make library books more accessible. So accessible, in fact, that the books travel to you in a nature very similar to an ice cream truck. Except rather than ice cream, you are given a full spectrum of literary delights with 4,000 titles to choose from.
O’Leary writes that “Cassandra Elton, the library’s director — as well as its driver and librarian — came up with the idea while talking with kids last year at Grant Wood Elementary’s after-school program, where she works.” She explained that many of the kids she spoke with expressed a desire to visit the library more and would have loved a summer full of new books, but were unable to travel to the library. This challenge sparked the fabulous idea to start the Antelope Lending Library—an idea that would be ideal to mimic in other communities around the world.
O’Leary’s story represents a community’s capacity for innovation, and also highlights the innate longing we all share for the pleasure of art, or in this case, a good book. It is my dream that more communities will come together to focus on literary access, and that the creative human spirit will help to bring more books into more hands.
For more info on the Antelope Lending Library you can read Josh O’Leary’s full article at:
Photo by Josh O’Leary
Did You Know?
A Book with a Vision of Unity
Our vision here at One Moore Book is to help make a difference by providing culturally relevant children’s books for countries whose voices are not often heard. We also feel that by bringing these culturally rich books to children in other countries we can help to build connections and work towards a future of peace and prosperity through compassion and respect. When children in the United States read our stories, whether they are featuring Liberian or Haitian authors and illustrators, they are transported to another country, and another way of life. This journey, although imaginary is also a journey of the heart. It is a way for our future leaders, mothers and fathers to see through another set of eyes and find within themselves respect for differences and to be reminded that although we are all different, we all share so much just by being human.
I recently found out about a book that does just this, bringing the diversity of our world into a lyrical and vibrant story line to delight our children’s young imaginations. “[T]his lovely book incorporates language and digital paintings that are smart and beautiful and meant to suggest the musical interplay of sound and sight. And meaning! Whether we are urban, suburban, or rural, North American, Middle Eastern, or Arctic, it is family and laughter and love that unite us. Or ought to.” Did You Know? is a first for both author, Deb Davis and illustrated, Jean-Paul Jacquet. Both work as teachers at Pomfret School in Pomfret, Connecticut. They came to collaborate on this project which grew“… from two friends at play to a celebration of community” to the delight of many readers. Did You Know? was newly published as of May this year, by Shady Pine Press and is a great example of how culturally diverse content in children’s books can help bring us together as a global community.
For more information on Did You Know? Contact email@example.com
Author and Librarian Vaunda Micheaux Nelson explains how it is”… important for white children to see characters of different races. “Not only do they learn to appreciate the differences,” she explains, “but I think they learn to see the sameness, and so those other cultures are less seen as ‘others.’ ” The article featuring Nelson, was recently published by NPR and is titled “As Demographics Shift, Kids’ Books Stay Stubbornly White” and highlights how even as the US has become more diverse, Children’s Literature has yet to catch up. This is exactly why supporting publishing companies like One Moore Book is so important. By doing so people voice their support for more culturally diverse children’s books and a more accurate reflection of the nations people.
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Multicultural Education=Our Future:
“The issue of creating globally competent educators wasn’t something previous generations had to face, but it’s a very real issue now, and its importance is only growing,” says David M. Moss, interim director of teacher education at UConn’s Neag School of Education. “Our goal as teachers is to prepare students for all aspects of life – for personal, social, and professional success – and today, that means preparing them to be global citizens.” This is an excerpt from “Helping Future Teachers Develop Global Literacy Skills” which is a newly published article in UConn Today featuring David M. Moss’s work creating globally savvy educators. It is a great read and really highlights why Multicultural Education is crucial to us all as world citizens. Our future is one of cross cultural collaborations and the educators who are really looking into diversity are looking into a niche filled with great promise and potential. We here at One Moore Book see the great importance of this work and with our culturally applicable books help to not only provide relevant content for the children in the countries featured but also to provide a window into these cultures for other children around the world. To read the full article follow the link below:
Photo Copyright: research.ua.edu
British author Tanya Byrne explains in this recent article published in the guardian “I’m so used to reading a book and the people not looking like me, it’s just something you live with – you are made to feel you are so different you would never appear.” Byrne who is half-Guyanese has been advocating for a more diverse children’s and young adult reading selection in the UK. She has recently partnered up with First Book who have plans to help bring more multicultural literature to the US. As they explain “Over the next two years, First Book's The Stories for All Project will work to develop culturally relevant collections of books for children, as well as work with thousands more classrooms and community program’s.” Byrne explains in this article some of the concerns and challenges authors, artists and publishers have and do face with the publication of multicultural literature, while also illustrating the great importance of this mission. As we know here at One Moore Book, the need for more diversity in literature is vast and the more people start to give voice to these children the more balanced our world will be.
I recently read a number of articles about literacy and its link to public health. A new study was published in the journal of “Social Science and Medicine” that shows the great importance of literacy and how it can impact community well being. The study was conducted “across the roughly 500 districts in India’s major states, accounting for 95 per cent of the total population…” and they found “… that poverty and crucially, illiteracy, are much stronger predictors of poor public health than low average income.” This is an interesting break through; showing the great importance of literacy and its long reaching effects. The study went on to explain that “the poverty gap would have had to be reduced by 25 per cent to save one child per thousand live births, whereas a mere 4 percent increase in literacy rate would have had the same effect.”
The people living in these communities with greater literacy rates, where better informed and more empowered to advocate for themselves and their families, and for this reason were healthier. The study concluded that “[s]tandard policy prescriptions need revision. Even in developing countries, they must be more subtle. First, non-income goods like literacy may make an important contribution to public health. Second, alleviating poverty may be more effective than raising average income levels. And third, policy should be based on a broader understanding of societal well-being and the factors that promote it.”
When we talk about culturally applicable children’s books, we are not only talking about helping children to read for the great pleasure of literature, we are also giving them the tools to bring about a healthier more educated life for themselves and their families. The importance of literacy, as the above study shows is one that can mean the difference between a life of self empowerment, or one of vulnerability. Looking at the many challenges communities face around the globe, we can say that our work here at One Moore Book is contributing to the hope of a healthier future.
Article by Haley O’Neil
To read more on this study you can go to:
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