I met Saran and Sarata Kaba at Coffee Shop in Union Square. As I listened to these gorgeous girls spill their passion for literacy over drinks (with a side of plantains), I instantly knew I wanted to help their cause. They began Guinee Espoire, a non-profit based in Guinea that promotes development through education. Their current goal is to build a library in Guinea and they have, for several years now, been accepting donations of new and used books from all over the world to make this dream a reality. (FJC is their fiscal sponsor so follow either hyperlink to leanr how you can help.) A collaboration seemed perfect because within this library, it would be ideal (and necessary) to include culturally-sensitive material. If my memory serves me correctly, that night was in early 2012 and for a year after, the girls and I brainstormed over emails and phone calls about how One Moore Book could serve them.
Two years later and I am so proud to join Guinée Espoire in releasing L’histoire des trois oiseaux (The Three Birds), written by Mariama Diabaté, Youssouf Diallo and Saran Kaba. The story follows three Guinean birds with hideous singing voices. It’s a special story and I am thrilled that Saran has given us her confidence in producing it.
On March 1st, join us in celebrating this collaboration and important book at The Shrine World Music Venue in Harlem. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in the city and I was a regular there when I lived in Harlem. Guzman, the Shrine’s co-owner and one of my favorite people, is also Francophone and The Shrine team has been amazing in helping to organize this event. $12 for entry will purchase a book for a child in Guinea. (You’ll also get all-you-can-eat plantains, music and drinks so come. Plantains. Seriously.) I hope to see you all there! ~Wayétu Moore
March 1st, 2014
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Shrine World Music Venue
2271 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.
NY, NY 10030
OMB author Robtel Neajai Pailey (center) poses with her mom Ethel Johnson Pailey (left) and her close friend Courtney Mosby (right)
Written By Courtney Mosby
Liberian writer and Ph.D. researcher Robtel Neajai Pailey says that she’s started a “revolution from below” with her book, Gbagba, an anti-corruption primer for children. On November 20, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Howard University African Studies Department jointly sponsored a D.C. launch of Gbagba, Pailey’s groundbreaking children’s narrative published in 2013 by One Moore Book, LLC, and illustrated by Liberian graphic artist Chase Walker. The book was previously launched in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, in February 2013.
Gbagba, loosely translated in Pailey’s mother’s language, Bassa, means trickery, or corruption. The two main characters in the book, Sundaymah and Sundaygar, are precocious Liberian twins who in a span of a few days navigate the subtle ways in which corruption and trickery infiltrate their lives. Gbagba delicately approaches the critical yet sensitive topics that may at first appear taboo for young audiences. But Pailey believes that “children are more astute than we give them credit for. They understand issues of accountability better than we do. My hope is that the book will give them the verbal tools to interrogate power, and to question the confusing ethical codes of the adults around them.”
During the launch, Pailey stressed that she wanted to explore corruption in Gbagba from a multi-faceted lens because too often it is seen in Liberia as something that only those in high public office engage in. In a New York Times op-ed earlier this year, Pailey wrote: “corruption is enmeshed in everyday human interaction. It is a function of both poverty and greed.” Gbagba shows corruption taking place in spaces as varied as the church, the market, schools, and in the public sector. Pailey said that while she was very careful about ensuring that children see the consequences of corruption, her message to the adults is that they have to do things differently, that anti-corruption policies must be aligned with practice in Liberia, and elsewhere.
Pailey explained that although she has occupied multiple spaces, having worked in media, academia, government, and the NGO sector, her firm ethical core and belief in the intrinsic value of accountability comes from her upbringing in Washington, D.C., under the watchful eyes of immigrant parents who taught her the difference between right and wrong. These were communal and cultural vestiges that her parents brought with them from Liberia, eventually inspiring Pailey to write Gbagba.
Hopefully with this book, the rumblings of a “revolution from below” will begin to be heard as all of us reflect on how we, through our everyday lives, engage in little acts of corruption. And how we might develop a new system of values for the generation that follows us. Pailey’s future goal includes getting Gbagba into Liberia’s national curriculum for 3rd-5th graders, and doing regional pilots of the book in Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya and Egypt.
Interested in hearing more about this powerful children’s book? The full audio feed from the November 20th launch can be accessed by listening to the Nov. 27th airing of Africa Now on WPFW’s 89.3 FM: http://transafrica.org/africa-now/ (Audio available after Nov. 27). Visit www.onemoorebook.com to purchase copies of Gbagba.
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.”
To read the full article go to:
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.
TO read the full article go to:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
To Read the full Text follow this link:
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