Last month, through EmpowerED live discussion, I had the opportunity to talk to Jim and his amazing friend Elisa Guerra, along her daughter Ana Rogu. They are a writer-illustrator/mom & daughter duo who made the book Hope Where Are You, an anthology of stories from 6 children around the world who are coping and finding hope in this pandemic.
This is a non-verbatim transcript of my answers during the live discussion:
How does storytelling help to develop literacy skills and guide students to practice empathy?
When we look at our ancestors, they used orature to transmit learning, culture, traditions, and even entertainment. And that still rings true up to this day. We are using storytelling for same prurposes, and as a crucial way of developing literacy skills: for example it enhances their vocabulary, listening skills, reading and understanding, among others. In these difficult times, telling our stories is needed more than ever. My mentor before has always told us that literature is the reflection of society: and telling and learning these kinds of stories is a gateway that would help our students understand the society they’re in, help them touch with our own roots and culture, and developing their emotions, feelings, and even empathy towards others.
This can be done when we teach them how to empathize with the characters and make connections, understand themes and morals, appreciate reading : all these things can contribute to their lifelong values growing up and may affect how they see the world.
The challenges in translating the book is that the english language structure is different from Filipino. The semantics, the words have varied meanings in the language, and so, when we were trying to translate the words and the stories there is always a dilemma on how much we localize and contextualize the words without really removing the voice of the characters and its original authors.
Another thing is that the cultural aspect of the book, for example: the names of food like chapati, or different traditions like child marriage, yoga, and these things and concepts should be properly represented and explained in the translated version of the book. Nevertheless, Jim and I really enjoyed translating and this is a testament on how rich our language is and this work made me appreciate our translators snd teachers because translating is not just work, but a work of art.
Filipino teachers can use this book as a reading material to develop reading comprehension: because number 1. It is timely and relevant, it speaks about the pandemic and different cultures of coping in the eyes of children 2. It speaks about hope, resilience, mental health, and call to action which can also inspire, be learned and replicated in their own lives . This can also be used as a source material for authentic assessments, by teaching our students how to empathize to the characters, tell their own stories of hope, and create solutions which are also applicable in their own lives.
How can we further help children and the youth in coping with the pandemic?
We can help children cope with this pandemic by designing learning continuity programs that are sustainable and are based on the contexts and needs of our students. All teachers should be reading teachers, it is macro-skill that can be used across multiple disciplines and so in these trying times, let’s prioritize developing literacy skills and utilizing literatures that would enable them to develop empathy, social-emotional learning skills, and self care even if they are just at home. Let’s make reading a safe haven for our students to go beyond the four corners of their homes and reduce the loneliness and anxiety brought about this pandemic. By helping them appreciate reading, they learn more about themselves and the world.
Just like in these stories, the youth needed adults and people who would take good care of them, and trust them, and at the same time , empower them to do great things even if they are still young.
BONUS: Along with my best of friends from TITSERYA, we made a live storytelling of the book that teachers can use as their teaching material or can simply be enjoyed by both young and adults.