It’s easier to tell some stories than others. (Picture Thant Thaw)
On the last day of the Yangon workshop Keith was a bit under the weather and did not come. We had boxes of children’s books from Nargis Library to distribute to our participants. The novices had returned from school a little early and had quietly entered the back of the classroom, discovering the books. They were quite excited as they looked over the books but remained well behaved. Even so, they could not help making a little noise as they shuffled things around. Like most rooms in Myanmar, there are only hard surfaces on the floors, walls and ceiling, so any sound carries. Most of our translators were girls whose voices were not as loud as those of the boys in Bogalay. Soon Sue came back and told me to clear everyone out.
I picked up an armload of books and indicated to my friends to do the same and we all walked to an open air classroom across the courtyard. They get some instruction in English, so that the older girls were soon doing some reading in the books on their own. The younger ones gathered around me.
We can’t keep them completely quiet: the girls come in after their school is out and discover the Nargis Library children’s books.
I found that some of the children’s books worked a lot better for this particular audience. The context of some had no analogue here and others have illustration styles that did not seem to connect. Plenty were good, however. Books that are very popular in the US seem to go over well here also. Mercer Mayer, Maurice Sendak, Richard Scary, and some of the Disney books. I had the best time with “Five Monkeys” (jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head). And “Something Funny” in the “Read with Dick and Jane” series, the same book I remember from first grade. These had the right amount of repetition for the little ones. I had no problem holding the their interest with these.
Older girls reading books from Nargis Library