Need a book? Write your own

Need a book? Write your own

Children fill school libraries with their own stories. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/un_photo/6207680679/sizes/m/in/photostream/">United Nations Photo (Flickr)</a>
Children fill school libraries with their own stories. Photo: United Nations Photo (Flickr)

Developing countries face overcrowded classrooms and empty libraries. Students have started addressing this issue by filling shelves with their own stories.

Many children in developing countries do not have books to take home or read in class. If they do, they’re usually not translated into local dialects. This means limited use by parents at home, many of whom are also illiterate. UNESCO reported in 2010 that one in five adults is illiterate. Not only learning to read but having easy access to books and other printed material is imperative to improve this staggering statistic.

While some rural communities have access to e-readers, they're few and far between. This is where innovation and imagination come in. A primary school in Chingoe, Mozambique, is filling its library with homemade books, shaping young readers by allowing them to share their own stories. The Literacy Boost program by Save the Children applies this hands-on method and has seen results. Teachers write their own short stories, children draw illustrations that serve as writing exercises, or parents tell stories to their children for transcription. Add a little string for binding and you’re set. It's an innovative way to promote and combine oral traditions with basic education.

Writing can also help children cope after disasters or hardships. Drawing or writing out their experiences is a constructive way to process emotions. Sharing these stories with their peers helps in the recovery effort while simultaneously improving important written and verbal communication skills.

While some may not ascribe a homemade library the same prestige of traditional textbooks or literature, it provides an important foundation where needed most. Children are able to read at home, engage their family and community, and boost their learning skills. No matter who wrote it, taking a book home to read is the first step in realizing the magic of education.

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