December 1, 2021
In October, SIL LEAD’s technical team hosted a writer’s workshop to train emerging Soninke and Mamara writers to adapt books for children in their languages for their Begin with Books project, Livres Numériques Pour Nos Enfants au Mali (Digital Books for Our Children in Mali).
SIL LEAD is developing a total of 420 quality, accessible books in those two Malian languages as well as Malian Sign Language, using SIL’s Bloom book creation software.
Most young children in Mali who grow up speaking Soninke or Mamara have never seen or read a children’s book in their local language. The lack of reading materials in local languages within communities severely limits building a culture of reading for parents, their children, and within schools. These barriers are even higher for the most vulnerable children in Mali, including girls, those with disabilities and those speaking minority languages, who are often marginalized within the school systems.
The workshop’s goal was to train emerging Soninke and Mamara writers to adapt books for children. The participants learned the steps in adapting books from French as “free adaptions”–not word for word. Participants included emergent writers who were also local language speakers, Begin with Books staff and language facilitators, who were highly experienced writers of the local languages. SIL Mali consultants led the workshop with support from local project assistants.
Each writer rewrote three books into their own language, including summaries and image descriptions for the visually impaired, which will become available in audio. One book from each writer was discussed in their language group, and all books were checked by the language facilitators and corrected or improved by the author. A total of 15 Mamara and 12 Soninke books were adapted during the workshop.
Participants responded favorably to the workshop. “I have fallen in love with my Mamara language again,” said one participant.
“I learned another way to make children’s books,” said another, “different from what I have experienced in making textbooks.”
Learn more about Begin with Books and SIL LEAD’s project.
Photo Top Right: Mamara writers and their language facilitator (left, seen from the back) discuss their work as a group. Photo Credit: Marian Hagg
Photo Bottom Left: All participants, language facilitators, BWB/SIL staff involved and SIL Mali Director Amagana Kouriba at the end of the workshop in Bamako. Some participants, emerging writers, proudly show the certificate they received. Photo credit: Marian Hagg