Friday, February 16, 2007

Ethiopia Reads!

As the daughter of a librarian, I am always on the lookout for a good book. The other day, my neighbor pointed me in the direction of the non-profit group Ethiopia Reads. Taken from their website, here is a brief introduction on their mission:

Do you remember the first book you loved as a child? Remember the magical experience of getting to know and love the characters — even missing them when the book was finished? For children, books can be so many things: comfort, learning tools, windows to other worlds both far-away and familiar. Books teach us that we have the right to dream.
Since Ethiopia Reads opened Ethiopia’s first free children’s library in 2003, thousands of children have experienced the joy of reading for the first time. This seemingly simple act has had a profound impact on their young lives. In Ethiopia, books represent hope. Ethiopia is a beautiful country, with breathtaking scenery and a vast richness of culture and spirit. But it faces tough challenges. Reading will equip today’s children with the skills to become tomorrow’s problem solvers.

Ethiopia has a strong tradition in oral story telling, an ancient history and written language, components that inspire a literate book-loving culture. Yet there are many obstacles to education. Consider:

  • 58% of Ethiopians age 15 and above cannot read.
  • Classes in government schools around typically have approximately 180 students at a time.
  • At present, 99% of schools in Ethiopia have no libraries!

They also sell, as a part of their fundraising efforts, children's story books written either in Amharic (the Ethiopian national language) or a dual language Amharic/English translation. There are a few titles in each format. We were so thrilled to discover this and so grateful to our neighbor for sharing. Click here to read more about the books available. AND for all my educator friends looking for something to do this summer check this out!

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