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Local history foto books...

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Thanks to a generous grant from Rotary International, FAVL will be developing more local-oriented books that inspire people to read more and create more.  Our local partner Rotary Club in Burkina Faso is the Ouagadougou Savane club.

One of our first projects is  to soon publish a photo book using text and photos from Koura Bemave, a retired soldier in the village of Bereba (and our own FAVL representative Koura Donkoui's father!).  Bemave, now 81, was in the French Army in the 1950s and kept a wonderful small collection of photos from his years of service.  He has agreed to share these with the community of readers in the villages, and we will soon be printing copies for each of the libraries.  For now we thought we would share one the fotos, of Bemave in Mauritania sitting on top of a crate of mortar shells! 

Bemave jeune obus mortier.jpg

Yesterday Sunnyvale Rotarian Charlie Wasser sprung the good news on me!  Rotary international has approved our proposal to work with Rotary Club of Ouagadougou- Savane to establish a "media center" in the town of Houndé that will work with local village populations to produce microbooks in the region.  The grant is for $35,000 over five years.

The books will be about subjects of interest to village readers, be authored by people in the villagers, and be "produced" by the FAVL team in the region.  We are looking forward to producing microbooks of stories from the various ethnic groups in the region, village histories, family histories, school story contests, photography books of local festivals and important events, and basically anything that our team comes up with that will likely be of interest to readers!

Some examples of the photography books FAVL has been producing are here as our fastpencil website.  We are looking forward to starting to work on the project!  Thanks especially to Charlie Wasser and the whole Sunnyvale Rotary Club, and other district-level Rotarians who worked hard to make this happen!
A student in Dimikuy library enjoying the book, and you can get your own copy here (in English and in French)!

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UgCLA Workshop

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UgCLA (the Uganda Community Libraries Association) held its sixth workshop from July 11-13 this year (see the pictures below). The workshop was funded largely by Pockets of Change, as part of its support for our Children's Book Project, and  Hawk Children's Fund provided some additional funds to allow our new members to attend and to support a book-making project for a couple of the sessions. The workshop was held, once again, at the Kabubbu Community Library, which is affiliated to a conference centre and resort where we could all be put up.

Every workshop that UgCLA runs seems to be bigger and better than the last. In this case, we had 55 people attending, representing a large majority of our 67 member libraries. The activities were all focused on how we can better help children in our libraries. First, those libraries that had received books under the Children's Book Project reported on what they had done with them, and everybody present had a chance to ask questions and make comments. A packet of 80-odd books has been given to each of ten libraries, and while they all used them in different ways, the impact seems to have been great everywhere, bringing in increasing numbers of children and encouraging adults to read as well. Then we spent an afternoon working on photographs of everyday Ugandan people, things, and activities: participants designated the themes in the new thematic curriculum for lower primary classes that the photographs could be used for and wrote text for each picture appropriate to the designated themes. Our plan is to collate this work to form  a set of picture books that could be used not only in primary schools but in nursery schools and for family literacy projects - for we have found that one of the major deficits in locally produced material is picture books for young children. Next day, the librarians at Kabubbu showed the participants how they could make supplementary material from the books they had in their libraries, material that would be fun for children to work with and that would make the books more accessible - and one of them had a group of eleven volunteers act out a story with an accompanying little song that she had made up. Lastly, we had a session devoted to "fun and games", which, this being Africa, evolved into everyone dancing to the beat of drums played by children from the Kabubbu primary school.

In short, a good time was had by all, but it's important to emphasize that this is not the sole purpose of our workshops. We have found that through them our library managers pick up ideas from their colleagues as well as from us, and that all the libraries are run, in consequence, a little better. The participants get to know one another and have by now built up a strong sense of solidarity, which is expressed in practical offers of help to one another. On this occasion, for example, the library at the Suubi Centre in Masaka District made arrangements for its new librarian to spend some time at Kitengesa and Kabubbu to get some training. Then, of course, the actual workshop sessions will result, we hope, in libraries exploring new activities and developing new materials. We have yet to see what will come up as a result of this last workshop, but we are confident that many libraries will now be using pictures more and many librarians will be making word cards and exercises to go with the children's books that they have.

FastPencil and FAVL form partnership!

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"FastPencil announced their partnership with Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL) as the publisher powering the initiative that brings books and literacy programs to African villages. FAVL now has the ability to take advantage of FastPencil's end-to-end publishing platform, while providing FastPencil with the opportunity to participate in the program that is helping spread literacy throughout the world." Read more of the press release here.
Exciting news!  As you may know, Reading West Africa students have been in the process of publishing culturally relevant children's books featuring pictures and stories inspired from their six-week stay at FAVL libraries in Burkina Faso. We have partnered with FastPencil to publish these books and have successfully transferred the books from our previous platform, Blurb, to FP.  FastPencil offers an easy-to-use online publishing platform that's free and provides high quality printing at half the cost of other explored platforms. We are grateful to be working with such a great company!  You can view our current books on the FastPencil marketplace:

A nice article was written about the partnership and book making project in PSFK.  Currently, we are working on translating these books into English and refining the book making process.  In the future, we would like to translate these books into local languages as well.

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Making books

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FAVL Volunteer Stephanie Wessels and I had a wonderful meeting on Friday at the friendly office of FastPencil!  FastPencil, founded by a SCU alum, is a web based publishing platform that allows you to use the "immediacy of the web, and the permanency of print."  Essentially, you can create books with their great online tools and then publish when and however you'd like.  At our meeting we explored how we can work together to publish our Reading West Africa books.

A group of students and I have been diligently transferring our picture books to FastPencil, in hopes to start printing in the near future.   Each book will be about $5.00 to publish, which is much cheaper than our current books, and the online tools provided are free.  Since the service is online, anyone involved can collaborate on a project and space is unlimited which is perfect with our plethora of photos and books. 

For a writer, FastPencil is quite a tool...  you can write a book, design the layout (or use one of their many templates), and collaborate with other writers, editors, designers, and the like.  When your book is complete, you can either publish as an eBook, hardcover, or go direct to online channels like Barnes & Nobel.  FastPencil even has their own marketplace. I am quite a fan and excited to see where this goes, especially with regards to making books for African village libraries!

Below is a picture of some Reading West Africa books (top shelf) in the Karaba Library in Burkina Faso. 

photo: Karaba Library, courtesy of Erica Ernst

My man Elisee... mogo-ma-mogo-wélé

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The guy is incredible... On his blog, the video above embedded, and text as follows:
Il est 23 heures, je fais une courte virée a l'imprimerie d'un ami. Une imprimerie sans nom ! Dans le jargon nous appelons ça "Djona-Djona ko" (affaire rapide) ou encore " mogo-ma-mogo-wélé" (personne n'a fait appel à personne) ; tout ceci pour dire qu'il n'y a pas grande possibilité pour le client de se plaindre de la qualite du travail ! Mais généralement le travail sort impeccable : T.I.A ! Le machiniste - en débardeur blanc - est un contractuel venu prêter main forte à mon pote. Comme tous les machinistes de Ouaga, il travail les nuits pour arrondir ses fins du mois. DeBawaya

You're caught in Pong...

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Pong because I'm going to link you back to Blattman's blog, as in all likelihood you came from there, and if you didn't, it is where you should go, for understanding development issues in Africa.

But while you're here, I'll link you also to our latest venture, that is just starting and I'm personally very excited about, which is starting to think about kivaing book production for African libraries.  Because honestly, what kid in a village wants to read a Barbie book?   (No offense to the big B, with whom my daughter has endless hours of fun, mostly involving cutting off hair and snipping clothes here and there and then lining them up for school).

But my friend and occasional collaborator Kathy Knowles got me started some years ago in thinking about producing books that are really super-relevant to kids in villages and towns in rural Africa.  And the more I thought about it the more I thought it might be nice to develop some kind of platform for developing a catalog of books in a nonprofit kind of way, to leverage the creative power of thousands of artists and writers.  So we are iterating slowly in that direction, and we have started with university students who were in Burkina Faso in the fall.  Their books are here.  All of them feature photos taken in the villages.  I guarantee you the young and adult readers in the villages just love this stuff!  Don't order any yet, because they have typos in them.  Fellow traveler Jonathan Thurston is doing something very similar focusing on secondary school students in Ghana.  Eventually we'll get to the same place.

By Carole Bloch
Although Raeez Writes is the only book (selected from the original 2002 set of books) that uses photographs, it was chosen because the committee felt that the topic of illuminating how we can support reading and writing habits was significant and because the characters would be familiar enough with children from the different regions of Africa. The story provides an example of how a young child, Raeez, apprentices himself to his grandfather, who helps him to write. When Raeez is asked where he is going, the reader is told “Raeez knows where he is going.” He is then depicted sitting at a table with Grandpa who is holding a newspaper: “Grandpa wants to read. Raeez wants to write.” We then see Grandpa stand up and help Raeez: “Grandpa helps Raeez.” “Then Grandpa reads and Raeez writes.” The final page has emergent writing around a drawing, and Raeez’s words, “Look what I wrote!”—celebrating and valuing the young child’s immature explorations in writing.

In dealing with names in the different language versions of the books, it was decided that as a rule, we should keep the name of the original, existing characters. For example, Ali and Titilope would remain such—as it is in life, people usually only change their names for cultural reasons or if they are oppressed in some way. At the same time, there are differing views on this and once the stories went for translation, they sometimes took on a life of their own, with one or another translator expressing adamantly that a name needed a spelling adaptation. For example in Orange, the original name “Beruk” became “Beruki” and “Mimi” became “Mimii” in Kiswahili. In Raeez Writes, it was decided that the name Raeez would be impossible to pronounce in Portuguese and so he became Rafique.

Nice and Clean, written in Ethiopia, is about personal hygiene. The first draft of the story was reminiscent of a lifeskills lesson, probably due in part to the challenge of translating from Amharic into English as well as the new challenge of writing for very young children. In the edited English version lightness and humor were introduced into the text through the use of repetition and wordplay. We also discussed where to best situate the story, and who the characters should be. What kind of technology should illustrate cleaning? Were baths, showers, and taps attached to sinks and basins appropriate? Could we illustrate brushing teeth with a toothbrush? None of these would be familiar practices for all children.

The challenge of where to situate a story and what characters to use was resolved in this case by a decision to use a simple outside rural environment, with a basic building that allowed for inside scenes. The characters are animals common to many African settings instead of human beings thus allowing children anywhere to identify with their actions. A mixture of scenarios were chosen and used—washing outside using a tap and bucket as well as indoors with all the modern features. On the first page we read, “Everybody needs to wash” and the story ends, “Now everybody’s nice and clean,” helping to pass on the message to young children, wherever they may be, that one of the things we share is a need to keep clean.

Read the full article here...
Carole Bloch, a South African academic, also has a project to produce children' books. They have sixteen titles... see here on their website. Really nice illustrated books.
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Books, reading, and libraries relevant to Africa by Michael Kevane, co-Director of FAVL and economist at Santa Clara University.

Other contributors include Kate Parry, FAVL-East Africa director, Peace Corps volunteer Emilie Crofton, Krystle Austin, Elisee Sare, and Monique Nadembega.

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