Storybooks Zambia is a website for teachers, parents, and community members that aims to promote bilingualism and multilingualism in Zambia. It makes 40 stories from the African Storybook available in the most widely spoken languages of Zambia, in addition to English and Bemba. A story that is read in English or Bemba at school can be read in the mother tongue by parents and children at home. In this way, Storybooks Zambia helps children to maintain the mother tongue in both oral and print form, while learning one of Zambia’s official languages. Similarly, the audio versions of the stories can help beginning readers and language learners make the important connection between speech and text.
All 40 stories on the Storybooks Zambia 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 hundreds of stories in multiple African languages, as well as English, French, and Portuguese. The stories are openly licensed, which allows the Storybooks Zambia team to repurpose them for a Zambian audience. We are very grateful to the African Storybook and Saide for making the stories freely available under an open license.
We selected the 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. We hope that the universal values reflected in the stories will resonate with children across Zambia.
Professor David Sani Mwanza is a teacher educator with a PhD in Linguistics from University of the Western Cape in South Africa. He teaches Applied Linguistics and Literacy Education both at undergraduate and post graduate levels at the University of Zambia. His teaching and research interests span Teacher Education, language-in-education policy planning and implementation, Assessment and Multilingualism, Language practices in literacy and language classrooms, Negotiation of identity in school and the classroom, Teacher Cognition and multimodal representations in literacy and language classrooms. Additionally, he is also interested in the intellectualisation of African languages in Education. Prof Mwanza is currently working on different initiatives to develop multilingual literacy and language teaching materials for colleges of education and primary schools.
Agnes Chileshe Chibamba is a research fellow and lecturer at the University of Zambia, school of education. Agnes has a history of exemplary service in the field of Literacy and Language and African Language Teaching methods. Before devoting her work to full-time lecturing at the University of Zambia, Agnes saved as a primary school teacher for 20 years and, she had a very good fortune of working with the Ministry of Education in the implementation of several literacy programmes aiming at improving the quality of education through the production of literacy learning materials at primary level. Her contributions have been mainly achieved by improving learners’ literacy levels through teaching and conducting research, teacher trainings and workshops across the country. Agnes has also worked as education advisor at VVOB – Educational development, Zambia. In addition to being a positioning lecturer, Agnes has written or co-authored five articles in the field of literacy. She has also written or co-authored four literacy course books (in a local language), which are currently being used to teach literacy in primary schools in Zambia. Aside from being a full time lecturer, Agnes is also studying at the University of Zambia for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Literacy and Language.
Christine Mwanza is a lecturer and researcher of Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education at the University of Zambia in the department of Language and Social Sciences Education. She holds a master‘s degree in International Education and Development from Oslo University College, Norway. She also holds a master‘s degree in Education in Curriculum Studies and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education (English Major), both from The University of Zambia. Christine’s research and writing are mainly rooted within curriculum development, literacy instruction, pedagogy and education, education and development as well as indigenous knowledge systems.
Sitwe Benson Mkandawire, is a lecturer in the Department of Language and Social Sciences Education of the School of Education of the University of Zambia. He studied linguistics and African Languages with English at undergraduate level. He continued with related fields at the master‘s and doctoral levels. He is currently working on literacy-related projects with cooperating partners in Zambia. His areas of interest are reading research, multilingual education, literacy and applied Linguistics. Sitwe has made multiple publications in literacy and language-related areas, and most of these can be accessed here: researchgate.net/profile/Sitwe-Mkandawire/research
Storybooks Zambia has only been possible with the help of a large number of people, including translators, readers, proofreaders, and others who have been part of the process of making these stories available. We sincerely thank all contributors for their time and effort!
We are particularly grateful to the Storybooks Canada project, which has created the modular website on which Storybooks Zambia is based.