Some of BookLinks’ members participated in the ‘Library for All’ (LFA) workshops which creates stories for children in developing countries. Stories are age appropriate and culturally diverse, and made accessible via their new ‘groundbreaking’ LFA app.
LFA Senior Research Librarian, Dr Lara Cain Gray, said with 617 million children not reaching minimum proficiency levels in reading, their global digital library was crucial.
‘How can you learn to read or write without access to books!’
Dr Cain Gray, also Head of Content and New Story Acquisition, said those attending their workshops donated their time with the option to donate their story for communities struggling to access books and educational materials
‘We’re big on windows and mirrors,’ she said.
Mirror stories reflected, enabling children to see themselves in the story. And windows allowed kids to learn and see through to other parts of the world, both being relatable.
People could submit stories to LFA, following their strict criteria, anytime during the year. Within 2-4 weeks they would know if their story submission was accepted for publication.
Dr Cain Gray, said author and volunteer, Michelle Worthington had led numerous writing workshops for LFA, leading to quite a few people being published.
Three times a year the workshops were in Brisbane with the next workshop being in-country with their program partners in PNG or Laos.
‘We run workshops in country so locals can tell their story, for their children to relate to.’
‘We have a class set of tablets ready for Papua New Guinea (PNG),’ the next workshop stop.
The robust black box was bespoke designed for humid climates along with sturdy tablets ready for eager readers’ hands.
Dr Cain Gray said those living in remote and developing communities often had books donated to them which was a good program.
However, it was difficult for their children to relate to ‘bears on red buses’ or ‘kids in the snow’ or to ‘a house full of technology’.
It was found those books disengaged their children in remote and areas of poverty, leaving them feeling alienated.
‘Children thought those books were meant for others and not them.’
LPA books easily translated using themes like health, friendships, the environment, elementary science, calendar events, which worked across cultural spaces.
Dr Cain Gray said, ‘Learning to read should be a basic right for every child.’
As a non-profit organisation, ‘Library For All’ accepted donations to continue providing children with literacy education in the developing world.
Ellisha Heppner, Program Manager International Operations, LFA’s newest team member, rallied with Dr Cain Gray in their quest ‘for every child to experience the joy of reading’ when books were not accessible.
Currently, Dr Cain Gray was looking to name their travelling black box with their sturdy hot pink tablets loaded with the new LFA app. Please email suggestions.
Recent UNESCO research confirmed literacy was more than reading and writing. It was ‘a means of identification, understanding, interpretation, creation, and communication in an increasingly digital, text-mediated, information-rich and fast-changing world.’