72 children's book in Maithili, Awadhi, Tharu and Nepali
Kathmandu, 22 January 2018: On Basanta Panchami, which falls on 22 January this year, Save the Children launched 72 titles of illustrated books and reading materials for children. Funded by Disney Marvel under Marvel Heroes Act Supporting Education, the books will be in four languages: Nepali, Maithili, Tharu and Awadhi. In addition some instructional reading materials to assist children enhance their reading skills will also be available.
National Early Grade Reading Assessment data from 2014 found that “34 percent of second graders and 19 percent of third graders could not read a single word of Nepali”. Children in Terai had the lowest reading fluency compared to other parts of Nepal while children who spoke Nepali at home performed better than students speaking another mother language. The data pointed at the urgent need to improve the reading skills of Nepali children. (USAID 2014)
There is also a gap in reading materials for children who speak different mother tongues at home. Furthermore, children who are just beginning to read ranging from three year old to seven, require varied reading material according to their level, need, interest and skill.
Stepping on these numbers and needs in the reading skill and materials, Save the Children’s Marvel Heroes Act Supporting Education project worked with around 40 Nepali illustrators and 80 writers to create 72 titles for children. These books, written in Maithali, Awadhi, Tharu and Nepali, cater to children who speak these languages at home. This set will also include books in braille and stories that inform children about disaster risk reduction.
Save the Children’s Project Coordinator, Uddab Bhattarai says, “With these story books, on the one hand we are covering children aged between three to seven and creating books in four mother tongues and on the other hand, also contribute to minimize the gap of level appropriate reading materials for emergent readers. Most importantly, we are encouraging children to become readers – enjoy and understand what they are reading”.
The books are scheduled to be used primarily for Save the Children’s programming districts of Kapilvastu, Pyuthan, and Saptari district will use interesting illustration and storytelling methods to peak children’s imagination and draw them into the world of reading.
With the Department of Education on board, the project is ultimately expected to contribute to the Government’s National Early Grade Reading Program’s ambition to turn our children into readers.