Many of these are also villages where there are no pre-schools or other educational facilities. The children in these villages walk long distances every day to get to school, and even if they attend the primary school close to Paleng, they have too far to walk home to be able to spend time at Paleng on these afternoons.
To try to meet the some of the literacy support, play and social needs of these children, we are piloting a little book and toy project.
We are setting up a very small ‘satellite’ library in the form of a small collection of books and toys, with a willing person in a village where we know the children are not able to come to Paleng.
- A small box of mainly picture books catering to early literacy, both in Sesotho (as we produce and translate them through the African Storybook Project (ASP)) and in simple English. We will add to this little box of books as we receive books from donors of various sorts in Paleng, and as we develop them through ASP. These books can also be exchanged from time to time with the books in Paleng on a rotational basis. For these little book boxes, we will focus on using as many ASP stories as possible, our own because they have been created specifically for this context, but also others that we have found our children like in Paleng. In particular, readers that we obtained through Rahula funds, which are written for school children with English as a second language. We have found these to be very popular with, and accessible to the children.
- A small selection of magazines that we know from Paleng that children like to take out. These are mainly National Geographic magazines and magazines aimed at children which include small puzzles etc.
- Stationery and other materials to run the little library.
- A small selection of toys, again containing toys that we know children in Paleng enjoy. These will include for example, balls, dinky cars, dolls, and puzzles. These will be toys and games that do not need specific mediation, as we will in all likelihood be working with a person without any specific training or background in working with children.
We have identified a suitable person in the village, and from January, we will offer her some basic training in the use of the books in the library, how to run a small library, story reading and storytelling for young children, and how to work with toys with the children.
We will be monitoring the activities in this informal library by visits to the village, and by bringing our new librarian in to the Paleng library on a regular basis for general support, book and toy exchange, and to explore new ideas for interaction with the children as we develop them ourselves in Paleng.
We are piloting this first satellite library in the village of Khorong, which is a 45- minute walk from Paleng. There are an estimated 30 to 40 pre- and primary school aged children in this village and others close by who would have access to it.
There are three reasons why we are choosing the village of Khorong:
- It is close enough to 3 other villages for children to be able to access the book box library at Khorong. Thus we will serve 4 villages in total.
- None of these villages have pre-schools.
- The community of Khorong village is well known to Paleng, as a Paleng co-founder was born there and knows the village and its context very well. His father is also the chief of this village. This will facilitate good monitoring of this little library.
We have had a meeting with the chief of the village and gained his support for the project.
This have identified a young woman in the village who is willing to do this work for a small stipend.
We have found an appropriate venue in an unoccupied house.
In January we will hold a meeting with parents from the 4 villages to explain the library and how it will run.
We will have the new village librarian spend three afternoons at Paleng, observing how we run our library, and providing training.
We will provide her with books, toys and other materials that she needs, and visit regularly at least once a week for the first month.
Thereafter we will rotate visiting the village library or have the librarian come to Paleng for monitoring purposes.
We will monitor this little library for a year, and then decide on the basis of our monitoring whether we feel that it is worthwhile trying to establish two other satellite libraries in villages whose children would benefit from the same service.