Monday, September 6, 2010

International Literacy Day – September 8th, 2010.

This is such an important issue and one that is dear and distressing (depending on your take) to the hearts of those involved with libraries, books, and education.

Not being able to read, as is the case for 759 million adults world wide (from Unesco website) enables the cycle of extreme poverty to continue globally.  Improved literacy empowers those who need it most, increasing educational opportunities and improved living standards both here in Canada and aboard.

Recently, one of the instructors from the Education faculty from the University of Calgary has become involved with an educational initiative that takes her to Tanzania.  She showed me some of the pictures that she took of a school she visited: small, concrete slab building, pieces of worn grass mats for the children to sit on, math ‘manipulatives’ consisting of a handful of rusted bottle caps brought by the children and books, well, as you can see from the picture below, included at least one newish looking book. The pristine condition attests that the children don’t handle this book very often. The other materials all look ancient.  It’s heartbreaking to see how little there is available (though I know there are even worse situations out there).

 Here are a few of my recommendations that speaks to the importance of literacy, reading, and education:

Afghan dreams by Tony O’Brien (958.1 OBA 2008) – Time and again, children in Afghan express hopes and dreams about the future.  Time and again the desire to teach is expressed. (Gr.6 and up).

Amadi’s snowman by Katia Novet Saint-Lot (823 Sa237A PIC BK) – for a Nigerian boy keen on becoming a trader, reading doesn’t seem to be important until a book shows him a world outside his own. (Gr.K-3)

Armando and the blue tarp school by Edith Hope Fine (823 F949A PIC BK) – A terrible dilemma for Armando and his family; help the family survive by working as a garbage picker or attend a school that consists of a blue tarp spread on the ground, a very dedicated teacher and a few notebooks. (Gr.1-5)

Biblioburro: a true story for Colombia by Jeanette Winter (020.92 WiB 2010 PIC BK) – One man, two burros and boxes of books are the link with learning and the outside world for small, remote communities in rural Colombia. (Gr.K-2)

Jeremiah learns to read by Jo Ellen Bogart (823 B6334H PIC BK) – It’s never too late to learn to read as Jeremiah and his wife discover, though both are knowledge about many things. (Gr.K-3)

Listen to the wind : the story of Dr. Greg and Three cups of tea by Greg Mortenson (371.822 MOL 2009 PIC BK) – A picture book version that explains how Greg Mortenson built a school and a movement to build many schools in Pakistan, in gratitude for a small village saving his life when he was lost and sick. (Gr. 1-3)

Nokum is my teacher by David Bouchard (823 B66N PIC BK) – A young, First Nations boy learns the value of school and reading from his grandmother as she encourages him to learn about the world, though seemingly far removed from his everyday life on a reservation, while respecting his own culture. (Gr.2-6)

Join Nonfiction Monday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect to see a list of recent blogs dedicated to highlighting nonfiction resources.


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