ReadingMatters Ethiopia Brings Story To Ethiopian Children

Sara Arnold was on holiday in Ethiopia when she visited a small village outside of Gondar. She had a copy of her book, “The Big Buna Bash,” which is a fictional children’s story about the Ethiopian traditional buna coffee ceremony. “Although they couldn’t read it,” says Arnold, “they were so excited looking at the illustrations! They held the books proudly with big smiles on their faces.” That was when she knew she wanted to bring the book to the children of Ethiopia in their own language.

While 51% of Ethiopians can read, there are very few books available that are not black & white textbooks. There are very few libraries in the country, and those that exist are solely within schools and contain mostly schoolbooks. Storybooks are very rare, especially those with illustrations. “Ethiopian children want to read but don’t have easy access to books, especially books with beautiful, colorful illustrations,” says Arnold. “All kids need to discover the love of reading.”

Arnold took action and was able to get the book translated into Amharic, the language of Ethiopia, and also secured the rights to the translated edition from her publisher. “My goal is to print and distribute 1000 copies of ‘The Big Buna Bash’ in Amharic to kids that don’t have the opportunity to own a storybook…” she says. “The Ethiopian Education Department will assist me in locating these children and some of the books will be donated to organizations that work directly with needy children.”

The books will be published in China and then shipped to and stored at Myungsung Korean Christian Hospital in Addis Ababa until they can be distributed. “After the books are distributed I will make contact with the educators/organizations that are my distribution contacts to assess,” says Arnold. “If the books are being read and enjoyed, then I have met my goal and can consider the possibility of future distributions.”

Arnold is a semi-retired teacher who wrote “The Big Buna Bash” and had it published by Brandylane Publishers in 2020. “I wrote about two things that I love: children and Ethiopian culture. My book is about an Ethiopian girl and the Ethiopian traditional buna coffee ceremony ‘that brings people together'” and “to teach kids the importance of kindness and accepting the differences of others.”

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