For some time now, CBN has been in deep discussion with Rotary Skelleftea in northern Sweden about ways in which they can help us to ‘Make Reading Cool’ – their suggested name for the joint project.
Staring with emails, we proceeded rapidly to a face-to-face meeting when Sindiwe Magona and Lesley Beake visited Västerbotten County in March 2013 and addressed the Skelleftea Rotary at their regular monthly lunch. Philip Cohen and his team Malin Burlin Lundmark and Ida Lindh, met with the CBN team after the lunch to refine some ideas.
The following projects are under discussion as part of the larger one, with Rotary Skelleftea is already busy with fund-raising.
We discussed how technology worldwide is changing the way children read. Nothing can replace books – we agreed unanimously on that – but the thrill of creating books electronically, the fun of using a reading tablet to access a text for group reading, the joy of illustrating using an art app … these are new experiences that can only add to the joy of reading and writing.
We discussed ways and means, acknowledging that this is such a new field that technologies (and prices) are changing monthly – and, for a change, prices are actually coming down! It was agreed that Lesley would investigate locally in Cape Town and report back, it being much easier to transfer funds than to arrange import and export.
CBN is in negotiation with a publisher in South Africa to translate books into African languages free of charge – and then to give the translation, also free of charge, back again once it has been tested and polished. Translation has already begun with a view to testing costs and this will be submitted shortly.
At the meeting Philip asked what our financial priority was. Lesley replied (with no hesitation!) that this website was, and is, critical to the development of CBN, particularly in publishing children’s writing and the translations. The committee kindly agreed to initiate fund-raising to support the funds already raised in South Africa.
We also discussed the concept of group reading through pre-loaded reading tablets. CBN would be able to tailor texts for specific purposes. In a much-quoted example, Lesley suggests that (with permission) the first two paragraphs of Alan Paton’s iconic Cry, the beloved country would be a wonderful inclusion. Our children do not have enough, or sometimes any, exposure to truly beautiful language about our lovely landscape.
All of these matters are being followed up and will be readdressed after the summer break in Sweden.
The main photograph shows the meeting in Skelleftea and was taken by Rose-Marie Lindfors. The gallery at the bottom of the article shows Sindiwe, Lesley and Philip addressing the Rotary Skelleftea members.