Most of my days are spent immersed in children’s literature. I’m either reading a book to the students at my school, passing out books for them to read themselves, or reading books on my own to create critical thinking questions for them.
But these last few months I’ve taken it one step further. I’ve been working on four Eager4English books written by creative writing students in the US who were paired with a volunteer here who could give the authors the inside scoop on life in Ethiopia. Specifically, life for the kids who live here. With that in mind, each writer created a story particular to the Ethiopian town they were working with.
These stories were compiled and edited months ago and then the waiting began…because what good are children’s books without illustrations? But our lovely Ethiopian artist Yonas Hailu finished up this week and now the rest of the work can continue. SNNPR’s book is almost complete with the other three (Oromia, Amhara, and Tigray) to follow in the upcoming month! But for now…teasers for some of the stories to be included in the collections.
My Lake of Love written by Mary-Liz Shaw…think of a realistic version of The Lorax in an Ethiopian setting. The story focuses on the importance of keeping Lake Hawassa clean for the generations to come. I may be biased, because this story is about my town, but I think it’s lovely!
Aremias Finds an Elephant by Dulce Haviland is about a little boy who loves to bring the animals he finds in the woods home…culminating in the largest animal of all, an elephant!
Selam’s Race by Lassiter Williams is an empowerment story about a girl who isn’t allowed to participate in a race because, as a female in the house, she has to do all of the chores. But thanks to some help from the friendly, nearby animals, she’s able to make it to the race (and beat all the boys!) after all.
Little Red and the Wolf by Caroline Todd Whitney is an updated version of Little Red Riding Hood, but with a much more upbeat ending. Who knew you could be friends with someone even after they try to eat your grandmother? : )
Abebech’s Hope by Sarah Neilson is one of our sadder tales, but one that many of the children here can relate to. In the story, Abebech has just lost her father, but she finds some surprising support that makes her realize how strong she is.