As a program manager for CODE I work closely with partners overseas. But unlike my Ottawa-based colleagues, I work out of Brazil. This has often given me an interesting perspective, as the society I’m surrounded by is still struggling to become fully literate itself.
I recently had the chance to visit the Sao Paulo International Book Fair- one of the biggest events of its kind in the world. This year, the fair highlighted the 200th anniversary of the National Library, established in the early years to support what is now Brazil’s national publishing industry. But in spite of efforts at the national and state level to promote reading among school age children - reading is still not a popular activity.
As part of efforts to engage children in reading, the fair created a large and comfortable area for people to settle in with a book. This space allowed children, parents and primary school teachers to experience numerous interactive reading activities, and even a model children’s library that went beyond static rows of book shelves and provided all kinds of engaging resources.
I was inspired by the number of publishers with collections that specifically focused on the Brazilian experience. By creating books that accurately reflected the reality of Brazilian children, (in particular the different ethnic and cultural backgrounds of its society), these books were more relevant to, and popular with, readers.
In seeing this, I found myself thinking about my work with CODE’s partners in Mozambique. Like Brazil, the majority of children books available in Mozambique are translated from North American and European books. But CODE’s partner in Mozambique, Association Progresso, is working hard to change that by supporting local writers and publishers produce books that capture the Mozambican reality.
Heloisa Modesto, CODE Senior Program Manager, Brazil.