New release from Books and Beyond celebrates how students are heroes

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School of Education student Natalie Callahan during a trip to Rwanda with Books and Beyond

A new anthology written by Rwandan and U.S. students has been released as part of an ongoing partnership to increase literacy. The anthology is an annual part of the Books & Beyond project, a collaborative service-learning project that connects the Kabwende Primary School (KPS) in Kinigi, Rwanda, with Indiana University’s Global Living-Learning Center and The Project School in Bloomington. The anthology theme this year is Being a Hero. Throughout 16 stories, students wrote about becoming a teacher or a doctor, protecting the environment and helping others in need. Other students wrote about dealing with bullies in school or taking care of their friends.

Established in 2008, Books & Beyond fosters intercultural communication and critical thinking skills as students work together towrite, illustrate and publish annual anthologies of bilingual children’s stories. The stories, written in English and Kinyarwanda, provide reading material for the students at KPS, while students at The Project School receive an intercultural education in the culture and history of Rwanda. In total, Books & Beyond has delivered over 22,000 books to schoolchildren at KPS.

Beth Samuelson, Interim Director of Books & Beyond and Associate Professor of Literacy, Culture and Language Education, said the project represents a long-term collaboration between communities of learners in Rwanda and the U.S.

The students who are most engaged in the project learn a great deal about intercultural communication, literacy education and book publishing, but they learn even more when they share their knowledge with their peers. That’s really powerful learning.

Beth Samuelson

"Books & Beyond Project at Indiana University has received lots of positive reviews, and we know how it benefits everyone who participates. We want to celebrate also how the project supports deep learning between peers,” she pointed out. “The students who are most engaged in the project learn a great deal about intercultural communication, literacy education and book publishing, but they learn even more when they share their knowledge with their peers. That’s really powerful learning."

The project also supports additional work throughout the IU community. This year, seven students from IU Bloomington will visit KPS to assist with the Kabwende Holiday English Camp from July 19-August 3. The camp will focus on writing workshop, kinesthetic English and reader’s theater.  Over 200 fourth- and fifth-grade students will enjoy a fun classroom environment for learning English skills. The stories that they author in their writer’s workshop class will be eligible for publication in the next volume of The World is Our Home. Camp will culminate with a celebration, which is open to the public, on August 3. Undergraduate students volunteering with the Books & Beyond Project have raised over $10,000 this year through grants and fundraising activities. They received a generous grant from the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council at IU.

Additionally, Betty Dlamini with the African Studies Program will offer professional development seminars in English pedagogy for 60 teachers from Kabwende and neighboring schools and will continue a program to identify and foster new authors. Michael Courtney with IU Libraries will also continue to develop a reading room at Kabwende and will also forge a closer relationship with the Kigali Public Library. 

For more information on Books & Beyond, visit Instagram and Facebook. You can also read past issues of The World is Our Home online.