Students from high-tech Silicon Valley are going low-tech to boost reading skills of young children in developing countries.
Summer students at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton put pencil and paint to paper over the past two weeks in an illustration workshop to create storybook drawings for children in some of the most under-resourced pockets of Africa and Asia.
The illustration workshop is a pilot project of the global humanitarian organization Save the Children, and is sponsored by the Bay Area Tutorpedia Foundation. The illustrations will be used in handmade storybooks in Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program, which aims to improve children’s reading skills in the early grades in developing countries.
Through the workshop, Sacred Heart Schools’ summer students in grades 5 to 7, sharpened their drawing skills, discovered new cultures and learned what objects they should sketch to make their stories come to life for children across the globe.
Storybooks are essential to helping young children build their literacy skills in the classroom and at home. But storybooks are either not prevalent or difficult to attain in many of the communities in developing countries where Save the Children works.
“In some villages, you won’t find a single children’s book. Yet research shows that children learn to read best when they are exposed to a variety of print materials to help them develop their language and literacy skills,” said Elliott Friedlander, senior specialist in basic education and literacy research for Save the Children.
Save the Children partners with teachers and community volunteers to create books on culturally-appropriate topics in local languages, and using local materials, including reproductions of the workshop illustrations.
“Thanks to the creative talents of the students at Sacred Heart Summer School, Save the Children is closer to bringing the joy of reading to more young children around the globe,” said Friedlander.
Photo by Elliot Friedlander for Save the Children