Feb 17, 2020 2020-02-17
A team based at the University of British Columbia in Canada has developed a literacy portal, Global Storybooks, which hosts custom sites with multilingual, open-licensed books from more than 40 countries and regions on five continents. The portal is intended to help democratize global flows of information and resources, facilitate language learning—including Indigenous languages—and promote literacy. The origins of the Global Storybooks digital project are found in the African Storybook initiative, which digitizes and makes freely available under an open license more than 1,000 original stories in 150-plus African languages, as well as English, French, and Portuguese. Many of the ongoing translations and recordings are done by international graduate student volunteers with an interest in literacy and language learning. The Global Storybooks platform supports the development of mother tongue literacy, bilingualism, and multilingualism. Audio and print promote reading by linking sounds and symbols. Users can toggle between different translations of the same story—the more familiar language helps to scaffold understanding of the less familiar language. They can download stories in different PDF layouts, including monolingual or bilingual and regular or wordless/imageless versions. They can also download in a landscape format (for reading on screens) or a booklet format (for printing).
Plus: Through the Global Storybooks portal, users can access Indigenous Storybooks, based on the open-licensed stories created by the Little Cree Books project at the University of Alberta. The Indigenous Storybooks site offers translations of these stories in Swampy Cree, Plains Cree, Haida (Old Masset), and Haida (Skidegate), as well as in English, French, and Spanish. Volunteers have also translated these stories into Huichol and Huastec, indigenous languages of Mexico.