Mother Tongue Books
Innovation: Mother Tongue Books
Innovator: Friends of Matènwa, Inc.
Location Applied: Haiti: Matènwa Community Learning Center (MCLC), Matènwa, Island of Lagonav
Potential Impact: Pilot project includes five schools, children in grades 1-3
Mother Tongue Books addresses two critical areas: a shortage of relevant reading materials and the need to foster a love of reading in children. It will support children to create their own books and share them with one another. This will increase the number of supplemental materials available to help them read, and will help them experience the pride of authorship. MCLC students will learn to love reading as they engage with the meaningful content of local stories written by their friends and peers.
To date, MCLC students have had high scores in reading, and this project seeks to demonstrate the feasability of this approach in other rural Haitian schools. In an application of the Early Grades Reading Assessment (EGRA) in 2011, MCLC students in grades 1-3 outperformed regional and national averages found in previous studies. In a national study conducted by the American Institutes of Research for the Programme Haïtien d'Appui à la Réforme de l'Éducation, the corresponding averages were 39 words a minute (short-story reading) and 56 percent correct answers (short-story comprehension). At MCLC, the 3rd graders that were tested with the same EGRA instrument were found to read an average of 60 words a minute (short-story reading) and to give an average of 67 percent correct answers (short-story comprehension). It is anticipated that similar improvements will occur in the five test schools.
Inspiration: “One of the major challenges for MCLC has been the lack of books in Creole for early readers. Literacy in Matènwa is dismally low. Homes have virtually no books; there are no libraries and hardly any informational written materials,” explains Mother Tongue Books’ Christine Low. “Lacking reading materials, MCLC had to create them, and out of this necessity grew the current Mother Tongue Books approach.”