In my elementary-level college French class, my students have an opportunity to use the language in a unique way by writing children’s books in French. Though some learners don’t think they can produce much with a new language, my students are learning to express themselves and create entertaining stories which we will ultimately share with disadvantaged children who are also learning French.
We are seeking funds to print them in a durable hard cover format so they’ll last a long time in the hands of little readers in Haiti, where the books will be delivered this summer.
In Haiti, all children learn French in school but have limited access to fun reading materials. Writing books with this audience and purpose in mind has kept my students motivated through the challenges of revision and editing, just as it did last year (see this article from our college's website). They are excited about the prospect of sharing their stories in a professional format with children for whom books are a precious resource.
How you can help
Your donation will help fund printing of the books in hard cover format using Shutterfly, an online book production tool. Last year our Haitian partner school was thrilled to receive entertaining, colorfully illustrated books for the children to enjoy. However, we were concerned that the books might not last long in paper format.
This semester my students have written very engaging, uplifting stories appropriate for children between 4 – 12 years old. They have worked closely with students from a local French immersion school, Heartwood Grove, to generate ideas and create plots that resonate with young readers. Last year's class did the same and even celebrated at a book awards ceremony after the children voted on their favorites! We then scanned the books and made them available digitally to Unleash Kids, a non-profit organization which provides laptops that are pre-loaded with educational materials for Haitian schoolchildren.
I will have the honor of hand-delivering this year’s books to a school in Lascahobas, Haiti in June. We therefore have a short turnaround time, so if you value education, literacy, and the positive impact of service to others less fortunate, please donate as soon as you can. Thanks so much for your support!
Why Haiti? A bit more about education and literacy:
- About 40 percent of Haitians cannot read, but not for lack of desire to learn. Government funding of public schools is so low that most Haitians must pay for their children to attend private schools, and because most Haitians live in poverty, they must sacrifice a great deal for this.
- A large number of children are unable to attend school beyond the elementary level because families just can't afford it. Nonetheless, many Haitians consider education the ultimate key to progress and self-sufficiency.
- French is an official language of Haiti and is used in government documents and transactions. School children are taught in French.
- When I was there in 2013, I noticed a lack of reading materials in the languages which most Haitians speak or are learning in school – French and Haitian Creole. Young Haitian readers appreciate the same characters and stories American kids love, and they often receive donations of books in English from the U.S., but I was convinced that my students and I could help by providing original books in French, the language which is so important to their education.
Merci beaucoup de votre aide! Thanks so much for your help!
A sampling of the stories
These are the stories our students have created, which will be available as rewards for a certain contribution:
Daniel et le dinosaure (Daniel and the Dinosaur). Daniel and his family move a lot because his father is a soldier. He is a little lonely because he has no friends to play with. One day, when Daniel moves to a new city and meets a new group of boys, he tells a lie that gets out of hand. Then Daniel encounters a dinosaur and doesn’t know what to do - should he tell the other boys? What will happen with Daniel and his dinosaur? What will happen because of his lie?
Julien et Sarah. Julien and Sarah were twins that always got along well. They would always play games together. Then one day jJulien brought Sarah to a place only he knew of: a clearing in the forest by their house. What they encountered there set them on a quest to save their friends from losing their homes. The story in this book is an inspiring one that is a real page turner.
Klein et son petit aventure (Klein and his little adventure). Klein is a runt puppy who only wants to fit in. From the start of his little life he feels different and humiliated by other dogs. When he overhears people and other dogs talking about him as the runt of the litter, he tries to change who he is. In this story that will make you cheer for the “underdog”, readers will identify with Klein’s desire to fit in and be loved. Klein finally realizes that he should simply be himself and love will follow.
Ginty l'artiste (Ginty the Artist). In this whimsical story, Ginty explores her strengths as a young artist and discusses her delight in drawing family members, the Eiffel Tower, and her own renderings of Van Gogh paintings. What truly makes Ginty a great artist may surprise you.
Le Déménagement de Simon (Simon's Move). Simon was a happy-go-lucky boy who loved his life living in a small town in northern Maine. However when he and his family needed to move to another county, Simon did not know what to do. He found himself saddened and worried about moving to a new life. How will he learn to cope with moving to a completely new place and knowing no one ?
La Princesse Isabella (Princess Isabella). Has anyone ever told you that you couldn’t do something because you happened to be a certain gender? This is the problem that Princess Isabella encounters. Isabella is not your average prim and proper young lady; she wants to become a knight and fight to defend the kingdom she will one day inherit. However, neither the king nor the head commander will help her because of the way in which her mother perished. They see so much of the late queen in Isabella and don’t want to lose her again. Can Isabella overcome this adversity and fulfill her goal, or will she be forever looking out of her bedroom window, yearning to be a knight?
Le Match de baseball sauvage (The Wild Baseball Game). Two lifelong friends, Ethan and Wes, were brought up loving the game of baseball. Everyday they are in their yard playing catch or homerun derby. One day their rival, Kyle, stops by Ethan’s house and challenges Ethan and Wes to a baseball game. Ethan agrees without even thinking. After agreeing, they realize they don’t have enough players. Ethan and Wes have to come up with a plan to beat their rival. What will they do?
La Carte (The Map). Sarah, Billy, and Amy have been friends for as long as they can remember. They play together every day after school, but sometimes, they get tired of doing the same, boring activities in Sarah’s back yard. One day, Sarah’s dog, Roover, runs off into the forest. The children find Roover, along with a map that will lead them on the adventure of their dreams. After-school playtime will never be the same!
Une Matinée bien remplie (A Really Busy Morning). No one likes waking up in the morning and getting ready for school, especially Sophie. When Sophie first wakes up, she’s grumpy and all she wants to do is disappear into her covers, but her mom persists to get her up. However, when Sophie’s mom reminds her that its picture day at school, things turn around for Sophie. This story stresses the importance of having a good support group and is appropriate for children of all ages.
Risks and challenges
Our semester will soon be ending, and final revisions are in progress. We'd like to get the books uploaded to Shutterfly for hard-cover production as soon as possible. Barring any technical complications with formatting using this online tool, we should be able to produce and deliver books to Haiti and to donors on time in June and July. I will be rolling up my sleeves as I did last year to get the books scanned / uploaded and to deliver the hard copies to Haiti.
Last year we scanned all books within less than a week and also shared them with Unleash Kids, the non-profit organization which provides Haitian schoolchildren with laptops that are pre-loaded with educational materials. Given this turnaround time, I anticipate we'll meet our target dates for production and delivery of rewards. The sooner we get close to our budget goal, the sooner we can begin to put content into the Shutterfly application!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (19 days)