May 2, 2019

Dear Friends,

My April visit to Ghana was full as always.

I spent three days in Goi, a village where we have a community library and an outreach program with seven mini-libraries in neighbouring salt mining and fishing villages. Energetic lay librarians, including a few mothers who participated in our successful 2018 Reading to Babies Campaign, gather children twice-weekly to read books aloud.

The Kablevu librarian was reading to 300 children on the day of my visit. I was delighted to see several eager readers stand up and narrate their favourite books word-for-word.

On April 10th and 11th, the Korle Gonno Community Library organized its third “Act a Book” event. Grade Four students from two nearby government schools acted a play, based on Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story From Africa, for their parents, teachers and peers.

Several students now learning instruments with Musicians Without Borders also performed on stage. Irene Togobo, a librarian with a music background, helps the young aspiring musicians with daily practices.

Literacy students from five libraries came together for a quiz competition at the Nima Centre. Prior to the event all the students studied David’s Day at the Mine, an OCLF publication highlighting one of Ghana’s natural resources.

I met with four people to confirm the correct Twi translation for Mimi’s Purse, a soon-to-be published OCLF book. In January, after trying to accomplish this with different translators and almost giving up, I heard from a principal of a teachers’ college who wrote, “I encourage you to publish it because you will be contributing to children’s literature in local languages and thereby promoting literacy.” 

Librarians from eight libraries are now preparing for OCLF’s 10th annual Library Theatre Festival in August. The theme is Sharing the Joy of Reading Through Theatre Art.

I attended an organizing committee meeting for the International Board for Books for Young People [IBBY] Africa conference in Accra this August. It will be exciting to welcome IBBY members from around the world. OCLF will play a role at the conference with library visits and performances by our young theatre groups at the final dinner gathering.

The City of Accra has changed its jurisdiction, creating many smaller municipalities with each one having its own management team. We did our best to introduce ourselves to newly-appointed officers. Face-to-face meetings go a long way to ensuring healthy, long-term partnerships.

Only a few minutes ago we received news from the Systematic Joy of Reading Award committee in Aarhus, Denmark. Their message read, “We received a total of 28 applications from 10 different countries. It was truly inspiring to read about all the different projects, and we want you to know that it has been very difficult to select the nominees for this award. However, the jury has nominated the following six projects, which yours is among!”

An endorsement from an international jury lends credibility to our efforts. Now I will phone my colleagues in Ghana to inform them of this good news.

I hope this newsletter conveys that your ongoing encouragement and financial support is making a significant difference.

Yours sincerely,

Kathy Knowles