September 18, 2023: Get ready for story time! Use Global Storybooks to promote multilingualism and celebrate diversity in our classrooms.

Storybooks Canada is a free open educational digital resource that supports multi-literacy and multilingual learning in homes, schools, and communities. This educational resource aims to promote multilingualism in Canada by making 40 stories from the African Storybook available with text and audio in the major immigrant and refugee languages of Canada as well as Indigenous languages. Including multilingual literacy in our classrooms is a culturally sustaining approach that can make all students feel included and valued. This week in the mentoring circle, we celebrate diversity with storytelling through digital portals like Indigenous Storybooks and Global Storybooks. To begin watch the following video to learn how to navigate the Storybooks Canada website.

All 40 stories on the Storybooks Canada website come from the African Storybook, a groundbreaking digital initiative of the South African organization Saide, which promotes literacy for African children. The African Storybook has over 700 stories in multiple African languages, with translations to more mainstream languages. The stories are openly licensed, which allowed Storybooks Canada to repurpose them for a Canadian audience. Storybooks Canada selected 40 stories out of several hundred from the African Storybook and sought to create a collection of stories of different lengths that balance the African origin of the stories with internationally relevant themes. There are traditional animal fables as well as contemporary stories about city life. Some stories cover serious topics like responsibility and gender equality. Others are just written to make you laugh. The universal values reflected in the stories will resonate with children across Canada and align with the BC Curriculum.

A story that would normally be read in English or French at school can be read in their own language by parents and children at home. As a free multilingual literacy resource for children and youth worldwide,  Global Storybooks allows you to read, download, toggle, and listen to various illustrated stories from the African Storybook and other open sites. In this way, Global Storybooks encourages children to sustain multiple languages in both oral and print forms. The audio versions of the stories can help beginning readers and language learners make the vital connection between speech and text. While Storybooks Canada and Global Storybooks mostly focus on immigrant and refugee languages, they acknowledge and try to support the multiple Indigenous languages of Turtle Island with the website Indigenous Storybooks.

Indigenous Storybooks is a website for children, families, community members, and educators to access Indigenous languages and promote their revitalization. As development continues at the University of British Columbia, the project aims to make text, images, and audio of stories available in Indigenous languages, so stories that are usually read in English or French at school can also be read in Indigenous languages.  This new digital resource was inspired by the open-licensed stories from Little Cree Books, a project in Alberta with a groundbreaking digital initiative promoting literacy in Cree language. The stories are openly licensed, which allows the Indigenous Storybooks team to repurpose and translate them into other languages together with a modern, responsive web design for reading the stories. Indigenous Storybooks is still under development and will continue to add languages, stories, and resources as they become available. In the video below Dr. Sara Davidson introduces Indigenous Storybooks.

Another incredible website that features exclusive titles from Indigenous authors is Eaglespeaker Publishing. Jason Eaglespeaker, Founder/Owner of Eaglespeaker Publishing, has developed a selection of authentically Indigenous graphic novels, memoirs, novels, language books, children’s books, colouring books and more – by him and a growing group of powerful new authors, from throughout Turtle Island and beyond. “NAPI & The Rock” is a beautiful free book by Jason Eaglespeaker that is available on the website. Blackfoot people have been using NAPI as an educational/motivational tool for thousands of years. Countless generations have survived, and thrived, from the priceless knowledge that NAPI introduces. “NAPI & The Rock” is available in two versions, Level 2 Reader: Full of Simple Sentences, Sight words and words to sound out, and Level 3 Reader: A high-interest story with new vocabulary and longer sentences, each with their own unique art style and reading level. This authentically Indigenous story is part of the ongoing children’s book series. Click on the images below to learn more!