Children in rural Malea-lea, Lesotho do not have any books at home to read in any language. They do not take books home from school to read, and our little library at Paleng is the only source of books and reading materials for children living in the five villages we serve. There are no public libraries in Malea-lea. We would like to write, illustrate, print and distribute two more bilingual picture storybooks in Sesotho/English. This will add to the small pool of books we have already created.
About This Project
Hare baleng! (Let’s read!) – Picture storybooks in Lesotho
Help us create, publish and distribute original bilingual picture storybooks to children in rural Lesotho. We can make literacy development fun!
Who are we?
Paleng Children’s Centre is situated in the Malea-lea valley in the district of Mafeteng in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.
The objectives of our centre are:
To create a space where children can engage with activities that promote literacy and thinking skills in an informal way
To give children access to early picture storybooks and other books in their mother-tongue, Sesotho, in order to support and strengthen literacy development
To give children access also, to early reading materials in English in order to promote the development of literacy in English, as Lesotho’s language of learning and teaching in schools is English.
To create a place where children can gain access to a range of stimulating materials that promote problem-solving, creative, out-of-the box thinking, to play, to create, to build, extend, manipulate, experiment, explore their world, to maximise the potential that every child is born with.
So, at Paleng (place of stories) we are storytellers, story collectors, story makers and story scroungers! We collect books for our library from wherever we can find them and distribute them to our children through our little library. We read to and with our children in a variety of interesting ways. We modify books and games so that our children can access them in Sesotho. We provide toys, games and other interesting materials for children to engage with. Most importantly, we write and illustrate our own homegrown bilingual stories for young Basotho children. We have done this with the help of the African Storybook Project (www.africanstorybook.org) where many of our stories are featured. We run workshops for local teachers on how to use our own storybooks in their classrooms to support literacy development.
What is our project?
Paleng would like to develop and extend the very small pool of picture storybooks available in Lesotho for children in their mother tongue Sesotho. We have already successfully produced and distributed three bilingual (Sesotho and English) picture storybooks, ‘Sun, Moon, Wind and Rain’, ‘’M’e Maneo’s Pumpkin’ and ‘Ball’.
Aside from these there are very few other picture storybooks available in the country. We wish to make a greater range of books in Sesotho available to all Basotho children. These books will be in bilingual Sesotho (the Lesotho dialect) and English, with illustrations by the staff and children, and will feature an activity for teachers and parents to engage children in. They will be A5 format, in black-and-white, with full colour covers.
The books will be distributed to our other newly established small village-based community library, and the eight primary schools in and around the Malea-lea valley. Most of these books will be given out in teacher workshops, and a small number reserved to sell, in order to raise funds for further print runs to distribute the books more widely across Lesotho.
The picture storybooks will also be used to lobby the relevant government education department to endorse our work, and to potentially help us produce and distribute these picture storybooks on a larger scale.
Why do we want to do this?
Can you imagine being a village child, waiting until you can go to school? Can you imagine the excitement of learning to read, of having a whole new world open up to you … but having absolutely nothing to read at home? Can you imagine having to read storybooks in a language you barely understand and never speak outside of school?
At Paleng we understand how critical learning to read is in a child’s life. Especially children who live in impoverished and deeply marginalised rural areas. Being able to read is central to all education, which itself is a crucial way out of poverty. We understand how important it is that children have books to read which are written in their mother tongue. If children don’t understand what they read, they are not reading. And they need plenty of practice with good quality, accessible and interesting books.
So at Paleng, we want to create more storybooks in bilingual Sesotho/English, so that our children can take them home from our library to enjoy, to practice reading with and to share with their families. We also want to give teachers more material to work with in the teaching of literacy in their classrooms.
Milestone 1 (Tipping Point) : R42 000
Our basic funding target is R 42,000.00 for the creation, illustration, design, printing and distribution of multiple copies of one more picture storybook.
The production of this book will help us to continue the process of creating picture storybooks. We have already produced and distributed three little books which have been very well received by teachers, children and other libraries, and we wish to add more to the pool of books available for young children in their mother-tongue Sesotho.
Production of one new storybook will bring the total number of available titles through Paleng Centre to four.
It will also help us engage in advocacy work with the Department of Education at Primary level, and give us a small number of books to sell, with which funds we can raise money for a subsequent print run, thus making this project self sustaining.
Milestone 2 – R84 000
We would like to raise a further R 42,000.00 (bringing the amount needed to R84,000.00) to create, illustrate, design, print and distribute of multiple copies of a second new picture storybook, this time at a more advanced reading level. The production of a second new storybook will bring the total number of available titles through Paleng Centre to five.
Milestone 3 – R120 000
Our dream is to raise a further amount of R 36,000.00 (bringing the total to R 120,000.00) to do much larger print runs of all our own and other picture storybooks available through the African Storybook Project website. This will include printing our bilingual storybooks in printed book form, as well as to make multiple copies of other storybooks created online through the African Storybook Project. This will allow a greater distribution of a variety of storybooks across Lesotho into libraries and schools, as well as create a more solid base for self-sustainability.
Citizen Activation – Get involved!
Share our campaign with family and friends: www.thundafund.com/paleng
Ask your employer or business owner to consider becoming one of the official business sponsors for a book. Ask this person to get in touch with us personally through e-mail. This would make an enormous difference to us.
A few hours:
Consider sharing our campaign with a relevant publication (online or offline) or your local press. If you belong to a faith group, share it with your congregation. This would allow us to really reach out to a new public.
A regular time commitment:
Contact us at [email protected] to discuss how you can help us on an ongoing basis. For example, we always need appropriate books, games and ideas for library activities, and we are opening a new little library in a more remote village. We’d love to hear from you!
Paleng Children’s Centre is situated in the Malea-lea valley in the district of Mafeteng in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. At Paleng (place of stories) we are storytellers, story collectors, story makers and story scroungers! We collect books for our library from wherever we can find them and distribute them to our children through our little library. We read to and with our children in a variety of interesting ways. We modify books and games so that our children can access them in Sesotho. We provide toys, games and other interesting materials for children to engage with, and most importantly, we write and illustrate our own homegrown bilingual stories for young Basotho children. We have done this with the help of the African Storybook Project (www.africanstorybook.org) where many of our stories are featured. We also run workshops for local teachers on how to use our storybooks in their classrooms to support literacy development.
Khothatso and Marion live in Malea-lea and are the founders of Paleng. We run the library every week here on the ground working with up to 40 Primary school children three times a week. We write, illustrate and make storybooks available in Sesotho for Primary school children, both in print form, and online. Edward is a documenter, film-maker, fundraiser, marketer, and source of great inspiration. He made a little movie of one of our stories. He lives in Spain, but visits Paleng as often as he can.