It's one thing to invite kids to the library and the After-School Reading Program to encourage them to read. It's another to have interesting and fun books that make kids want to read and increase their literacy skills. Sumbrungu librarian, Angelina, says that the library is filled with books, particularly stories written by African authors and feature pre-teens and teens in village scenes that are similar to everyday life, that make kids excited to read. She says that when kids first come to the library, they're immediately attracted to the Fati series by Osu Library Fund (Fati and the Green Snake, Fati and the Honey Tree, Fati and the Old Man). Kids say that they hear about these books from their friends at school who've already participated in the program, and they want to read them too. During the program, Angelina makes sure to show them a variety of other books. Her favorite books to share are Chidi and the Colors because the illustrations are bright and colorful and Baby Farm Animals because it helps the kid learn the names for animals and their offspring that they see in everyday life. The kids' favorites are Otu Goes to Sea, the Lucky One, Silly Simon and the White Little Dove. Angelina said she's noticed that a lot of kids come to the program early now and will read a book or two before the session starts.

Beyond Access recently announced a new partnership with All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCR). The partnership

provides up to $450,000 in additional resources in support of ACR GCD grant awards that include innovative approaches for engaging public or community libraries in their project designs...ACR GCD applicants within competitive range, whether a library or an organization incorporating a library component, may be eligible for technical assistance, capacity building and/or funding for technology supported library activities. Applicants are encouraged to propose ideas that build on existing library infrastructure, equip librarians with new skills and services, and show the potential to reach many more children.
Read the announcement on Beyond Access' website for more info about the partnership.

Extended deadline for ACR GCD Round 2 applications is May 2.
Takam Tikou is here. The full bibliography is here.

Cette nouvelle bibliographie ne fait que confirmer la vitalité de la richesse de la littérature africaine de jeunesse. Les auteurs continuent leur œuvre pour notre plus grand plaisir : Saliou Bah avec le bel album Le Voyage de papa, illustré par Irina Condé (Ganndal), Marie-Félicité Ébokéa avec La Bicyclette de Fofana (Édicef), Joëlle Esso et le deuxième tome de la biographie en BD du footballeur Eto'o (Dagan), Muriel Diallo et trois nouveaux albums avec sa « star » Bibi (Les Classiques africains), Aboubacar Eros Sissoko et le touchant Boubouni (Tropique), Kidi Bebey et sa biographie illustrée de Césaire (Cauris)... De nouveaux auteurs émergent, tel Innocent Boho, qui ose aborder le thème épineux de l'identité sexuelle. De nombreux livres de contes traditionnels, des livres bilingues, un dictionnaire de la BD d'Afrique et bien d'autres titres sont ici présentés, ainsi que des albums bilingues publiés en...1981, et toujours disponibles !

Ghana ASRP Kids Break Out of Their Shells

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One of the favorite games at the Sumbrungu Library is a call and response song in which each kid says his name with a little dance, and the other kids welcome him and copy his dance moves. The song goes a little something like this:
  • Hello, hello. My name is Philip. Hello, hello. My name is Philip. [dance]
  • Response: Hello, hello Philip. It's nice to meet you, Philip. Come on, come on. Don't be afraid. Step out, step out and say your name.
  • Continues around circle until everyone introduces himself.
It's a great and simple activity that helps kids overcome their timidity, which is really important in learning to read, especially in a group setting like the After-School Reading Program. The counselor from Sumbrungu, who is also a teacher at the primary school, said that he's noticed that kids who attend the program are a lot less shy, even in the classroom. He said that since classes can have up to 60 kids, it's easy for them to hide behind each other to avoid being called on. The kids who participate in the program sit up proudly in class and are always the first to volunteer to answer questions and read aloud, even when they make mistakes.


The Africa39 is Announced

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From Accra Books and Things:

Just saw an announcement about the Africa39 list of upcoming African writers under 40.  More information is available via the Hay Festival Africa39 webpages.

According to the list of nominees, there are three with a Ghanaian connection:
  1. Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, author of Powder Necklace (and yes, I have read it).
  2. Nii Ayikwei Parkes, author of Tail of the Blue Bird (which I have mentioned on several occasions!)
  3. Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go (I've already mentioned this novel, one of my favourites for 2013).
It is however worth noting that all these Ghanaian authors live mostly outside Ghana - though Nii Ayikwei Parkes is presently in Ghana.

Congratulations to all the nominees, and of course I look forward to reading the anthology of short stories which will be launched in October 2014.

What's Been Happening in Burkina Faso?

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Sorry for the lapse in blog posts, FAVL friends. I returned Friday from a trip to check up on our ASRP program in Ghana and returned to HOT SEASON in full blast (though we did get an awesome mango rain a few days ago). Which means that the electricity and internet will both iffy for a few weeks. Fun! But we have been quite busy here in Burkina Faso. Here are the highlights:
  • As I said, I just returned from a 4-day trip to Ghana, where the After-School Reading Program is nearing it's end. We had a meeting with the counselors (who are primary school teachers) and librarians to talk about the impact of the program. The counselors said that one of the biggest changes that they've seen in kids who participate in the program is their willingness to volunteer to read and answer questions in class (which is easy to do in a class of 60 students). They're very happy with the program and sad to see it ending.
  • Donkoui, Dounko and Alidou are working hard on a continuation of the JTL program, which began a few weeks ago. Youth in the Tuy region are enjoying new books by Burkinabè talent such as Ousseni Nikiema and Mady Kafando, among others. The program will run until June.
  • A project we submitted to EIFL-PLIP for $20,000 to implement a Girls' Mobile Health and Leadership Training got shortlisted for funding! We have to edit the proposal and resubmit it. Keep your fingers crossed that it gets funded.
  • We're working on a proposal for All Children Reading: A Grand Development Challenge Round 2. It seek projects that propose technology-based innovations that support improvements in basic reading skills with a focus on mother-tongue instruction, family and community engagement and children with disabilities. FAVL is working on a proposal for a project at the 7 village libraries in Tuy using Frontline SMS and focusing on family and community engagement. We're excited about the proposal and hope it gets accepted.
  • ISO is working on their annual Literacy Month fundraiser to support village libraries in Burkina Faso. Each of the elementary school classes and one middle school class have decided to "adopt libraries." They're raising funds to buy new books for specific libraries. The librarian is hoping this will encourage them to build life-long ties to those libraries and even visit them one day. Three middle school classes are organizing a group read-a-thon and blogging activity. Each class decided on their own fundraiser. Some are doing bake sales or read-a-thons. One girl even said her mom pays her to play the violin, and she wants to donate that money to her newly adopted library! We appreciate their enthusiasm and bright ideas for the fundraiser and know the village libraries will as well.
Kids at the Sumbrungu Community Library practiced writing their names with alphabet cards. The program has had a big impact on the three communities since it began in June 2013.

International School of Ouagadougou supporting FAVL

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Over the years parents and staff at the International School of Ouagadougou have supported the village libraries in Burkina Faso, and this year the teachers and librarians are promoting FAVL during their literacy month.  Thanks so much for your support!

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Nice graphic on how books help kids... from First Book

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Reprise du Programme JTL

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Le programme les jeunes du Tuy Lisent (JTL) a repris ses activités le 20 mars. Les participants et les animateurs l'ont accueilli avec joie. Cette fois-ci les participants du programme et ceux du contrôle auront la chance de lire des romans et bandes dessinées pendant deux mois. Les coordonnateurs et les animateurs ont déjà fait la première distribution dans les zones de Béréba, Békuy, Sara, Bouahoun et Bouéré le 25 mars. Les premiers livres sont appréciés par les participants.

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The Insanity of Writing

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If you follow the African writing scene at all, you probably know that a lot of exciting things are going on. African writers and publishers, especially those in Anglophone countries, are using taking more and more to social media and the internet to advertise and get discussions going about the future of African literature. Today, I came across Africa Creates, an online radio show which features interviews with African writers, musicians and artists, among other talented people. This morning I listened to an interview with Moses Kilolo, a founding member of Jalada, a "pan-African writer's collective." In the interview, he talks about Jalada, what its all about, how they're using technology like Google groups to communicate and what young African writers are talking about these days. He reads a passage from his short story, "Angel Gabriel" and talks about insanity as the topic of Jalada's first anthology.

You can catch the interview on Mixcloud and read the entirety of Kilolo's story (as well as the other works from the anthology) on Jalada's website. Enjoy!

February Family Planning Activities

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One of the things that we're proud of at the village libraries is the breadth of monthly activities that librarians organize, including story hours, reading groups, information sessions and artistic activities. Something that we've been trying to encourage the librarians to do as of late is to have group discussions about relevant social topics: road safety, hygiene and family planning. They did a great job in the month of February doing this, especially in the villages of Boni, Dohoun, Karaba and Koumbia, where each librarian organized a discussion about family planning. Each of them invited the midwife from the local health clinic to come, explain family planning, its importance and different methods of contraception. The sessions opened up interesting discussion about the reasons behind family planning (especially in rural agriculture-centered communities where families are traditionally very large) and difficulties, including husbands with more "traditional" views on the topic and the rising cost of living in Burkina. Here are what the librarians in Dohoun and Karaba have to say about the sessions and the discussions that followed.

Le 16 février fut à la bibliothèque une séance sur le planning familial. Organisé à l'intension des femmes par le bibliothécaire en collaboration avec Mme Gisele Kambiré, accoucheuse au dispensaire de Dohoun. Trente-quatre femmes ont prise part à cette séance qui a duré une heure. L'animatrice a expliqué que le planning n'est autre que l'espacement des enfants et éviter les grossesses indésirées. La pratique permet un bon suivi des enfants (santé, éducation) ainsi que la possibilité des activités rémunératrice pour les mères. L'animatrice a aussi ajouté que toute femme en âge de procréer doit faire le planning. Les différentes méthodes de planification ont été aussi décrites. Les participants n'ont pas hésité de poser les questions : Comment prendre les pilules ? A quel moment faire cette pratique ? Des questions qui ont eu des réponses d'éclaircissements.  Après ces mots, les participants et l'animatrice se sont séparés pour une prochaine fois. Une activité qui a vu un succès aux dires d'un témoin : « J'ai six enfants rapprochés avec lesquels j'ai beaucoup souffert. Si j'avais pratiqué le planning cela m'aurai fait du bien. Maintenant, j'ai arrêté à cause de la vie chère, alors que je suis encore jeune. »

Le mardi 04 février a eu lieu à la bibliothèque, une séance de sensibilisation sur le planning familial avec les femmes de Karaba. Au total 17 femmes ont pris part à cette séance. L'objectif était de convaincre les femmes à pratiquer le planning familial en vue de réduire la souffrance que vivent ces femmes en milieu rural. Il faut noter que cette sensibilisation a été faite en collaboration avec l'accoucheuse de dite village, Mme Zongo Evelyne. Evelyn et moi, nous avons tenu tour à tour la reine des discussions avec les femmes. Nous avons expliqué ce que c'est que le planning familial ainsi que son importance, l'espacement des grossesses et les méthodes de contraception. Ces femmes ont été très heureuses de recevoir ces précieuses informations et ont à leur tour tenu courage à poser leurs difficultés déjà rencontrés. Selon Biébouré Téné, il arrive souvent qu'elle a besoin d'aller voir un médecin pour mieux comprendre certaines situations, telles que les grossesses indésirées et les effets négatifs de certains produits, mais le point de vue coutumier de son mari fait qu'elle n'a pas le courage. Pour elles, certains maris sont contre le planning. Madame Zongo a tiré une conclusion en invitant les femmes à pratiquer le planning familial et prendre contact au cas de besoin.
If you're going to be in the Santa Cruz area in the next few weeks, make sure you check out the Three Lives in Photography Exhibit. FAVL friend David Pace will be featured, along with 2 other photographers. It runs from April 9 to May 10 at the Sesnon Gallery at Porter College, UC Santa Cruz. Make sure you check it out to see some of his amazing photos from Burkina Faso (like the one below from Karaba in 2012). Click here for more details.

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Kitensega Community Library March Newsletter

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Beeog Biiga = 20 New Libraries in Northern Burkina!

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Back in June, when Michael was here, we worked with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to put together a grant proposal for USDA for a project called Beoog Biiga. The proposal was for establishing 20 libraries based on the FAVL model in the provinces of Bam and Samnetenga (northern Burkina). We got news yesterday that we received an issues letter from USDA for the grant! CRS is still working out the details and making changes to the budget, but we're really excited to work with them on this project and expand the network of village libraries in Burkina Faso! More news to come...
In January and February, we posted about a Flat Stanley project that FAVL friend Emilie Crofton was doing with her second grade class in California. Flat Stanley visited the province of Tuy in Burkina Faso and spent some time visiting village libraries and getting to know people from the region. We sent Flat Stanley back to Emilie and her class with a letter from our Regional Coordinator. Emilie recently received it, and her kids sent us a few pictures back. Here is what Emilie had to say about the experience:

photo 4.JPGLast week our class received Flat Stanley back in the mail. He had been traveling all across Burkina Faso, learning so much about the country and the people. I shared all the pictures the FAVL team has sent over the course of the school year. I talked about FAVL, and what life is like for students in rural Burkina Faso. Students really enjoyed seeing the picture of Flat Stanley and the woman carrying a heavy bucket of water on her head. It prompted several students to get up and try to balance books and school supplies on their own heads...and quickly realized how challenging it was! Our class has students who are voracious readers (our most current class goal is to read 100 books), and they were sad to learn that many students in rural villages in Burkina Faso have limited access to books.
At the end of my little presentation, I thought the Flat Stanley project was over, but my students weren't quite done. A hand shot up and asked, "Can we take a class picture with Flat Stanley to send back to them?" We set up outside in front of the school to snap the picture. Students also thought it would be fitting to take a picture of Flat Stanley in the school library to share, since they had learned so much about the libraries in the rural villages.

Overall, I was really happy with this project. Something that seemed so simple and basic spurred so much knowledge about different countries, traditions and ways of life for the students. This is a project that my mentor teacher does every year, and when I have my own classroom, I will most definitely be continuing this project.

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From Jean Fairbairn at EIFL:
Visit the EIFL Facebook page to read about two exciting and innovative models of bringing ICT classes to children in places where schools do not have computers and may even not have electricity.

Volta Regional Library in Ghana and Maendeleo Foundation in Uganda:
  1. Take laptops, modems, desks, chairs and tents to schools in vans equipped with solar panel;
  2. Set up 'pop-up' out-door classrooms, and teach the children essential computer and internet skills. If needed, classes can also take place indoors;
  3. Use solar power to charge the laptops and power the wi-fi connections;
  4. Pre-load the laptops with educational content;
  5. Have great impact. Children are passing their ICT exams and have brighter futures.

Volta Regional Library and Maendeleo Foundation are both EIFL-PLIP partners. Check out this BBC article about the Maendeleo Foundation in Uganda. If you want to know more about these cost-effective and low-tech solutions to a hi-tech gap, please contact EIFL.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Interview with NPR

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I've loved Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ever since I randomly came across a copy of Purple Hibiscus at the Peace Corps hostel here in Ouaga and devoured it. I'm jealous of everyone who is in the States and can get her latest novel Americanah. It just won a National Book Critics Circle award. AND a film based on Half of a Yellow Sun is coming out this summer. So if you're in the States, hop to reading her new book (and then send it to me!), and while you're waiting for the movie to come out, you can check out this interview she did with NPR.
Donkoui is leaving for Tuy today to work with Dounko, Alidou and all the "Youth in Tuy Read" coordinators. The program ended in November when we were unable to find funding to continue, but luckily, Michael was able to secure finances to allow us to organize an additional 2 months of the program. All the books are purchased, labeled and ready to go. During Donkoui's stay in Tuy, he will visit all of the villages where the program is taking place to hold discussion groups with participants, meet with local officials and help distribute books.

We're excited about the new selection of books for the program because 4 out of the 5 of them are written by Burkinabè authors. Participants will enjoy works from Ousseni Nikiema (Les Contes de Dunia 2), Mady Kafando (Sale temps pour la dame Tampoko), Thierry Tapsoba (L'échange d'une vie contre la fortune) and Kouka N°13 as well as Une vie de boy by Ferdinand Onoyo.  We're excited to not only be able to promote reading and African authors in these villages, but Burkinabè authors as well. All of the books are short, interesting and accessible to young readers in rural areas. There are also a variety of forms (short stories, bande dessinées and novels), which will expose participants to different writing styles. We think they will enjoy the experience and are excited to hear their reactions to the new books.
EIFL has just released a new video about the Connect Uganda Pilot Project - one of the PLIP services. Congratulations to Maendeleo Foundation and the librarians! This innovative service is helping farmers increase their income and makes the library even more important in the community. Check out the video to find out more about the project.

Burkina Lecture Visits ISO

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Over the past couple of weeks, I've been helping ISO organize one of their events for Africa Week. I put them in touch with Ousseni Nikiema from Burkina Lecture to come and speak on their "African author" day. Ousseni story is fascinating and motivating: he only went to primary school through CM2 (5th grade), but later taught himself to read and write. He has gone on to become one of Burkina's foremost authors and storytellers as well as head of Burkina Lecture, a storytelling ensemble. I thought he would be perfect to speak to the kids. Ousseni generously offered the time and services of a storyteller and a guitarist from his troupe for ISO's event, which took place yesterday morning. The group held three sessions based on age group, performing tales from one of Ousseni's books, Les Contes de Dunia 2. Fortunately, the language barrier didn't pose a problem for the kids who didn't speak French as they quickly caught on to the interactive nature of the storytelling as well as the music that accompanied the tales. Students from the younger groups even got up in the end to dance and enjoy the music with Burkina Lecture.



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, FAVL Burkina Faso representative Koura Donkoui, FAVL Burkina Faso program manager Krystle Nanema, and FAVL friends Emilie Crofton and Elisee Sare.

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