Mimi Werna_ Decolonizing Children's Literature Through the African Storybook's Digital Tools.pdf (341.72 kB)

Decolonizing Children’s Literature through the African Storybook’s Digital Tools

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conference contribution
posted on 2023-12-23, 14:02 authored by Mimi Werna

Children's literature plays a significant role in shaping a child's beliefs, values, and identities. Unfortunately, in many societies, this literature is dominated by Western culture and stories, perpetuating colonial perspectives and reinforcing Eurocentric worldviews. Consequently, African children interact more with content that is not relatable. The characters in the available books do not look like them, nor live in familiar-looking houses. Their food and fruits have strange names, and the setting and even the weather appear strange. While the differences may help to stretch the children’s imagination, western culture and perspective will begin to feel more authentic. The African Storybook (ASb) is an award-winning initiative that promotes the development and use of openly-licensed picture storybooks in local languages and contexts and provides a website and Apps to facilitate this process. The ASb initiative can help to decolonize children's literature in the present and future of learning. Readers can openly access the books on the website, in PDF or ePub format, by downloading them or using the ASb Reader App. The ASb Maker App on the other hand, allows African communities, teachers, children, writers, and illustrators to create and share children's storybooks in the language of their choice, thereby promoting the development and documentation of a rich, diverse, and multilingual literary heritage for African children. Interestingly, both Apps can be used offline. The paper examines the impact of the ASb digital tools on children’s reading practices while focusing on its ability to promote decolonization by providing open access to African stories and cultural perspectives. The writer demonstrates how the ASb digital tools challenge Eurocentric views and support the creation of a more inclusive and diverse literary landscape, and the potential of these digital tools to enhance mother tongue literacy among African children by providing equitable access to stories in a range of African languages. This multilingual approach can foster intercultural understanding and support linguistic diversity on the continent. This paper advocates for greater recognition of ASb resources and tools as a breakthrough OER working to decolonize children's literature in Africa. By providing open and equitable access to learning through African stories, perspectives, and cultural heritage, these tools continue to contribute to the development of a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable society.


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