Library For All, a not for profit enterprise of Save the Children Australia, has released 350 new children’s books for the Solomon Islands, including books in the local dialect, Arosi. Library For All’s Program Manager in the Solomon Islands, Natasha Sokeleke, says the books will help teachers and students with literacy in English and Arosi.
200 of the books in the collection are also newly written, by local authors including teachers, nurses, environmentalists, and even high school students. “We run writers’ workshops,” explains Natasha. “We invite people who are interested in writing stories for children that cover key themes – art, health and hygiene, science, and culture and community. At the end of the workshops, we collect the manuscripts, edit them, then publish them,” she said.
Books are a window and a mirror
Most of the books currently available to children in the Solomon Islands are from other countries and cultures, or ‘window’ books, which offer glimpses beyond a child's experience – to other places and cultures, opening a child's imagination to new possibilities and understanding how their community fits in to the rest of the world. Meanwhile, ‘mirror’ books reflect a child's world, what they know, and validates their lived experiences. Children need books they can relate to and engage with – books that reflect their own lives. Library For All, working with local authors, is publishing a mix of both ‘window’ and ‘mirror’ books. Across its collections, Library For All aims for 70% mirror and 30% window books, making it vital that communities are engaged in creating mirror stories for their children.