News for Pennsyslvania Libraries

Paynter Elementary School ESL teacher Renee Christman, and Whitehall Public Library Director Paula Kelly have patiently waited for over two years to see their Saving Stories bilingual picture book project come to fruition. They will celebrate, along with scores of community collaborators, on March 21st at 6:45 pm at the Whitehall Public Library.

In the fall of 2013 the Saving Stories project was launched in the Baldwin and Whitehall communities, home to Pennsylvania’s second highest percentage of resettled refugees. Many refugees, whose families have been displaced from their homeland for a generation or longer, resettle here with limited or no formal schooling. Research has shown that the process of learning to read in English is easier and faster when a foundation in native literacy exists.

Saving Stories was born out of concerns that many local English Language Learners were either losing or had never attained the ability to read in their native language, and that one day the opportunity to preserve and archive their language, culture and personal stories may be lost.

The project quickly became a community-wide collaborative effort to collect, record, illustrate and preserve stories, folk tales, poems and songs in the form of bilingual picture books, transcribed by community members and illustrated by student artists. Ms. Christman and Ms. Kelly received a generous grant from Macy’s. This funding allowed for professional vetting and publication of four of their eight collected manuscripts.

The books: Two Karen Tales, Fruit and Vegetables, Weather, and Nepali Anthology will be premiered at the Whitehall Library. The books will be on display that evening and sets of each will be presented to other local libraries, Baldwin-Whitehall elementary schools and Prospect Park’s Family Center and GPLC classrooms, reaching every ESL community member and untold members of the community-at-large.

For additional information contact: Paula Kelly