How African Storybook works to improve early reading in the languages of Africa

How African Storybook works to improve early reading in the languages of Africa
How African Storybook works to improve early reading in the languages of Africa

It's no secret that there is a severe shortage of appropriate books for early reading in the languages of Africa – a shortage that has the greatest impact on the literacy development of the poorest people in African countries.

Smangele Mathebula, African Storybook Partner Development Coordinator (Southern Africa), tells Parent24 that the African Storybook (ASb) is a multilingual literacy initiative that works with educators and children to publish openly licensed picture storybooks for early reading in the languages of Africa.

An initiative of Saide, the ASb has an interactive website that enables users to read, create, download, translate, and adapt storybooks.

She explains that the initiative addresses the dire shortage of children’s storybooks in African languages, crucial for children’s literacy development.

As of September 2020, the website had nearly 6,500 storybooks in 211 languages spoken in Africa, consisting of 1500 original titles and translations of those titles.

The African Storybook (ASb) is addressing this scarcity by providing digital openly licensed storybooks in widely spoken and marginalized African languages.

Mathebula describes how users can create and translate their own storybooks utilising accessible tools, and storybooks can be published on the website.

How to access the picture storybooks?

Browse the African Storybook website for thousands of openly licensed free picture storybooks in the languages of Africa for children’s literacy, enjoyment and imagination.

It also has tools for the translation, adaptation and creation of picture storybooks for children aged two to ten, from early childhood and first three years of primary school, Mathebula says. 

African Storybook has two apps for mobile devices downloadable for free from Google Play and the iStore:

The African Storybook Reader gives parents and children access to the storybooks even when they are offline.

The African Storybook Maker allows people to create picture story books offline on their mobile phone or tablet, and publish them on the African Storybook website when they are connected to the internet.

How can readers get involved?

1. Create your picture storybooks in your own language/s on the website or using the maker app

2. Search an expanding library of storybooks created elsewhere in Africa

3. Translate or Adapt stories for the language, context or level you need once you register on the website.

4. You can share, download and print picture storybooks on the website for free.

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