Saturday, January 3, 2015

Let's get this happening!

Bhutan has declared 2015 the National Year of Reading to commemorate His Majesty the 4th King of Bhutan's 60th birthday. Bhutan is a country that is rich in the oral tradition of story telling and it is only in recent decades that a culture of reading books has developed among lay people.

For many in rural areas it is still difficult to access to books although this is improving as READ Bhutan sets up more village libraries such as the one we visited in Ura. Children who learn to read both Dzongkha and English at school can also borrow books from school libraries.

Ura Library.

When I noticed that 'learn to read' books were not available for my students (who at the beginning of grade 2 were still essentially non-readers), I felt an imperative to provide them books to help them learn to read. In rural Bhutan many students are from backgrounds where two or more local languages are spoken in the home and so English is being learned often as a third or fourth language. Development of vocabulary is a crucial step in learning to read, however since many students come from homes where parents can't read English, it really is up to their determination and the dedication of their teachers to overcome the obstacles to becoming fluent in English, the medium of education.

My students made simple learn-to-read books which they loved!
The set of books that I wrote and have developed along with the help of many friends is ready to print and distribute to schools and libraries in Bhutan. I have launched a crowd-funding site to raise funds with an initial target of $5000 so that the books can be distributed to approximately 150 schools and libraries.

Since launching only a couple of weeks ago I've been heartened by donations from generous friends totalling $750. Added to the $1000 I am personally donating, we are well on our way to achieving our target. With your support, we can make a difference and help rural students develop vocabulary and build confidence as readers.

Please visit my fundraising page to donate. Keep in mind that one set of eleven books will cost approximately $35 so for this small amount you can know your donation will impact an individual school or library

Bhutan Canada Foundation is commencing a new volunteer program in April this year, bringing experienced Canadian teachers to work intensively with students for one month on reading. I want those teachers to have access to these books as I believe they will really help them work with their youngest students.

Help me get these first books in the hands of children and we'll see where this can go!