from Global Citizen
This bicycle library is raising literacy rates in Afghanistan
Every weekend, the children in Afghanistan cannot wait to welcome this school teacher!
By Gina Darnaud APRIL 27, 2016
Every weekend, the children in Afghanistan cannot wait to welcome the teacher Saber Hosseini!
In Afghanistan, access to education is obstructed by a lack of resources and this is especially true in rural areas where the nearest school may be hours away. Saber is trying to change this unfair reality with his “bicycle library” that offers children in these communities the opportunity to access a world of knowledge.
Literacy is one of the most accurate measures for predicting a child’s future. Unfortunately, where a child grows up often decides her access to education.
Saber is a schoolteacher in Bamiyan, the capital of the Bamyan province in central Afghanistan, which is one of the most poorest provinces in one of the poorest countries. Its mountainous geography and barren land often make education inaccessible…but that doesn’t stop Saber!
Many schools were destroyed through the violence of the past several years and children from remote villages were often forced to drop out, reversing earlier educational progress that had been made.
Saber came up with the idea for a bicycle library six months ago. After conversations with friends in literary circles, Saber was able to raise enough money to purchase 200 books. Working with volunteers, Saber traveled to the Iran border to purchase most of the library’s books because the publication of books in Afghanistan is severely limited.
Now six months later, through the support of communities and people around the world, the library has grown to 3,500 books and Saber has even opened the first public library in Bamiyan.
The literacy rate is on track to rise again all because because of a library stationed in a box on one man’s bicycle.
In the beginning of the project, Saber admits that he and volunteers would choose simple books, but now many of the children are able to read more advanced ones. The library has become so popular that some of adults are even using the library service and checking out advanced level children’s books.
Each time he visits a community, Saber speaks to the children about an important topic. He most commonly speaks of peace, the dangers of drugs, and the need for tolerance between people with different beliefs or cultures.
One time, he spoke to children about guns, and used the slogan “say no to guns, say yes to books.” The next time he returned to the same village, the children collected all of their toy guns and handed them over to Saber. This was a heartwarming gesture, but the kids wanted to bargain: they would forfeit their guns if they could be the first village in the next round of book deliveries so that they could get the first pick.
Saber has brought joy to many communities, but there are costs to his endeavor. He has received many threats and many have opposed his caring works. Even still, Saber continues to make room for the opportunity to learn. A library is more than just a pile of books, it is also a community of individuals willing to learn and discuss and grow.
Saber makes this library possible with his little bike, but in Afghanistan a bike is actually commonly seen as a negative object. The Taliban used to use bicycles in their bombing techniques, but Saber is rehabilitating the image and reassociating it with practicality and fun.
“When I hand the books out to them, I can see their excitement and joy,” Hosseini said. “It is the joy of being able to learn. I am also inspired.”
The power of education is something we should hold on to just like Saber did and still does.
Watch Saber in action here:
Your Kids Can Now Watch Astronauts Reading Stories From Space
by Sarah Aswell at ScaryMommy
Reading to kids is wonderful and everything, but reading to kids from space is super awesome
If you need to mix up your bedtime story routine a little bit, the Global Space Education Foundation has just the thing for you: Story Time in Space. It’s exactly what it sounds like — astronauts on various missions in space read popular children’s books while floating about, and the videos are edited and shared with kids way down on Earth.
The results are adorable as well as educational and inspiring. Check out astronaut Kathleen Rubins reading Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and try not to get choked up at how amazing this all is.
The concept was developed by Patricia Tribe, the former director of education at Space Center Houston, and Alvin Drew, the first NASA astronaut to read a story in space for the program, during the final mission of the space shuttle Discovery. The pair were looking to find a way to encourage reading among kids while also promoting STEM education, and landed on the idea of having on-duty astronauts reading science-based kids’ books, gravity-free.
Since the initial reading, all of the story times have taken place on the International Space Station, as it hurtles through nothingness at 17,500 miles per hour around the planet. It’s only a guess, but this may be slightly more interesting than your kids listening to you feign excitement while reading The Mitten again.
“What better role models to engage kids in science and to engage them in reading?” Tribe told the Huffington Post. “You’re not only looking and listening to the books, you’re looking around the International Space Station.”
Astronaut @Tim Peake tweeted from the ISS about his reading of The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home by Lost My Name book that he has read for us!
“I enjoyed reading this “Story Time” for the kids- my boys will like this too
check out the pic!!! So excited!
Not only are does Story Time in Space aim to make reading out of this world, it also stresses the importance of diversity. Tribe and her team select books for a wide range of reading levels (though all can be read in 15 minutes or less) and from a wide range of STEM topics, from physics to engineering to biology. The group also selects a diverse set of astronauts to read the books, so that kids can see that people who look just like them can reach for the next frontier. For example, Japanese engineer and JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata read Max Goes to the International Space Station in Japanese for the program this summer.
The Story Time from Space program is also expanding. The group is working on adding a set of nine simple science experiments for kids that were conducted from the space station, involving concepts like energy transfer and surface tension. In addition, more books are on the way, including A Moon of My Own by Jennifer Rustgi, The Rhino Who Swallowed A Storm by LeVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo, and Moustronaut by Astronaut Mark Kelly.
While those projects are being completed, Earthlings can enjoy the rest of the collection, which includes Max Goes to Mars, by Jeffrey Bennet, as read by astronaut Mike Hopkins.
Let’s just hope that these awesome videos don’t ruin regular books read in gravity, from the ground, by plain old mom who probably isn’t even an astronaut.
This week the Division92 Little Free Library is featuring the songbooks of Sandra Boynton. You probably know her best from her massively popular card:
Did you know she also writes (and co-writes) children’s songs? And convinces hugely popular celebrities to sing them? We’re putting out her first three songbooks. Unfortunately, the CDs are missing from each of the books. HOWEVER! You can find the songs on YouTube! For instance:
Where else can you hear Kate Winslet & Weird Al Yankovic singing a duet? When was the last time you heard Scott Bakula sing? What other album contains performances by both Hootie & the Blowfish AND Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme?
Books I’ve recently read ~
Eat What You Watch: A Cookbook for Movie Lovers, by Andrew Rea – from the Binging With Babish
Movie Night Menus, by Tenaya Darlington and Andre Darlington
Sometimes when we watch a movie at home or with friends, we’ll try to pair food with it somehow. We watched a good share of the series Babylon 5 with friends, and did a fair job either sharing a dish from the movie or at least tying our food to the episode through some sort of pun. I’ve recently started a Short Story and Movie Night social group – everyone reads the short story ahead of time, then we all watch the movie based on that story together. We talk about what we liked and didn’t like of each, we compare and contrast the story and movie, and we’re generally just having a good time hanging out.
Just My Type, by Simon Garfield – I love books about stuff, written for the Everyperson. I have a mild interest in design and typography, so this seemed like a great book for me. Turns out, I could have used about 100 fewer pages. Each chapter is basically about one font and its history, and how it’s related to a few others, how it developed over time, a bit about the person/people who developed it, other things going on during that period that may have contributed, and so forth. After about 8 chapters, though, it just got to be too much for me. As much as I liked it, I just couldn’t finish it.
Side note: Every time I saw the cover on my nightstand or even thought about the book, I could hear this song in my head:
Ezra Jack Keats wrote some of the most beloved children’s books – The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, Peter’s Chair, A Letter for Amy, and more. He’s been gone since 1983, and his books are still used in classrooms and library storytimes all over the country. He wrote and illustrated children’s books, illustrated adult books, painted murals, and helped design camouflage patterns while serving in the army. Did you know he also created backgrounds for the original Captain Marvel comic?
From the entry on Mr. Keats in Wikipedia: “One of Keats’ signature story elements is that the children in his books are consistently challenged with real problems that are recognizable to young readers; in solving them, the characters learn and mature.”
Watch this video clip of Ezra Jack Keats making art with Mr. Rogers.
You might also want to check out the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, dedicated to bringing multiculturalism and diversity to children’s literature.
For the second time this year, Portland is experiencing SNOWMAGEDDON!
Do not fear – Division92 Little Free Library has you covered! Go for a short walk, enjoy the snow, catch some flakes on your tongue, make a snowball or two, look for wildlife tracks – and stop by to find a new-to-you book. Get home, build yourself a little nest, make a lovely warm beverage of your choice, and snuggle in for the rest of the snow storm!
Sorry to be posting this a bit late in the day, but folks! That snow ain’t going anywhere! It’s only gotten heavier since daybreak! I’ll be putting more books out shortly!
I ran across a piece a few months ago about short story dispensers, made and distributed by the French company, Short Édition. Yes, short stories dispensed by a machine – for free. You can choose between stories that take about 1 minute, 3 minutes, or 5 minutes to read.
After tucking away the bookmark to that article somewhere safe, I promptly forgot about it till today.
I looked up the company’s website. You don’t even have to find a dispensing machine to read the short stories – you can read them on the website if you want, or even have them emailed to you!
I’d love to find a dispensing machine in person. Unfortunately, there’s none near me. I checked the map pretty carefully. And what little travel I’ve got planned so far doesn’t take me near any machines either.
If anyone is interested in a short story machine, they’re looking for hosts- looks like it could possibly be a good bit of advertising for a business or organization as well. They can help customize the collection of stories to fit your purpose too – feature local-ish authors, have a hotel dispense bedtime stories, a school or youth-oriented business/organization could feature children’s stories, and so on. You’ll have to go to the Public Library Association’s website for specifics.
It also looks like Short Édition is working on how to have English-speaking authors be able to submit their work for consideration – watch the website for more information.
disclaimer – I have no affiliation with Short Édition or any of it’s machine hosts. I just think this is an awesome idea, and I hope more organizations will choose to host these or something similar.