The African Storybook Project

The African Storybook Project and its impact in Nepal and the Global Community - Bonny Norton and Mary McKenna at the 11th Language & Development Conference, 2015

Bonny Norton is a Professor in the University of British Columbia, Canada, and Research Advisor to the African Storybook Project. Mary McKenna is Director of the Nepal Education Support Trust.

From left to right: Bonny Norton is a Professor in the University of British Columbia, Canada, and Research Advisor to the African Storybook Project. Mary McKenna is Director of the Nepal Education Support Trust

Despite Grandmother’s warnings, the child went ahead on trying to find out how bananas ripen, with rather disastrous consequences: just one of over four hundred stories collected together for use with learners by the African Storybook project. The project emphasised the need to reflect aspects of children’s real lives and to enable them to construct meaning in supporting developing reading skills in less literate societies (although just as true, I guess, in literate societies too). The aim of the project throughout is to be child-centred and a vital focus of engagement.

Stored digitally, the stories (accompanied by some fantastic illustrations) were initially translated into over fifty African languages but the project has now expanded globally to include languages such as Arabic and Cantonese. For once, it’s Africa which is contributing to the flow of ideas rather than being the recipient of them.

The audience questions were as thought-provoking as the presentation. We discussed the cultural references in the illustrations, how the resources could be integrated into mainstream teaching, how the resource will be received in cultures print is and how the project could be monitored and evaluated. All tough questions in an increasingly multilingual, digital world…….

Watch Bonny and Mary’s session here:

Watch the interview with Bonny Norton here:

Post by: Andy Keedwell
The writer is the Senior Academic Manager English Partnerships for British Council in East India

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