Maimounata Learns to Read and Draw

Sabrina Urquhart's picture
Posted by Sabrina Urquhart on
Fri, 12/04/2015

Photos of Maimounata and classmates in a reading camp, courtesy of Save the Children.

Maimounata is 11 and in fourth grade. She lives in the village of Siani in Sikasso, Mali. She likes to go to Save the Children's Literacy Boost reading camp in the late afternoons. "I borrow books there to read at home," she says.

The books, provided by the Bezos Family Foundation and Save the Children through the Students Rebuild Literacy Challenge, have made a huge impact on the village children who attend the camp. Previously, the girls and boys only had access to books with tiny print and very few illustrations, and only a handful of these were written in the children's mother tongue.

"The new books have helped me learn to read and draw," says Maimounata. "I try to imitate the images I see there. Before, I had difficulty reading the books with small print, but the new titles in the Bamanankan language are legible and understandable," she explains.

"The first day I saw these books, I was so amazed and so were my classmates because none of us had seen anything like these. I was even happier when our facilitator told us about the reading camp."  - Maimounata, 11 years-old, Mali


“Before, I rarely brought books home," Maimoutana explained. "If I did, they took me a very long time to finish reading. But now I ask the camp facilitator for help when I don't understand something. Once I understand the meaning, I'm encouraged to explore the text further." 

Issa Kouyaté, the reading camp facilitator, shares Maimountana’s enthusiasm and describes the impact that the new books from the Bezos Family Foundation have had on the children and teachers in the community. “The new books are more durable than the old ones. Both teachers and students are finding the books easier to read, because of the large typeface. The children are also learning to draw by imitating the images in the books. After each lesson, some of the children try to reproduce the pictures. I saw Adama drawing the drum featured in one of the books,” Issa says.

“The camp has also taught us how to express ourselves more easily in public, both with the children at the camp and at community meetings. The teachers and reading camp facilitators are also working well together. The teachers help us when we run into difficulties,” he says.

Issa believes that the program could be further enhanced if the community could receive support in producing their own new books featuring local stories. This would address one of the biggest challenges that the reading camp faces: not enough books. “This would motivate more children to read,” Issa says.

The Students Rebuild Literacy Challenge, in partnership with Save the Children and Global Nomads Group, helped thousands of children in disadvantaged communities become successful life-long readers and learners. The Bezos Family Foundation, through Students Rebuild, has matched each bookmark you made and mailed in with $1—up to $300,000—for Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program in Mali, Nepal and Peru.