Mar 2, 2020
This World Book Day (Thursday 5 March), educators and parents are being encouraged to help their children dress up with a difference. The Europe-wide Sankofa – Storytelling for the Digital Age project that’s based in Cumbria wants teachers and school children to choose a character from a global themed story and not only dress up as this character for World Book Day but also to talk about and tell their character’s story too in their own words – this is storytelling for a better world.
There are hundreds of stories that reflect global themes and values, such as climate change, environmental sustainability, gender equality, identity, LGBTQA+, migration and race. The idea is that exploring these themes through stories help raise awareness of global citizenship amongst these young minds by linking to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – also known as the Global Goals. The Goals offer young people an outlet for their desire to be active global citizens and to be able to contribute and work towards solutions to our world’s complex problems. They also help children understand that they too can help work towards achieving these goals, perhaps starting in their community.
Debbie Watson, who leads the Sankofa project and represents it in Cumbria enthused that ‘Storytelling is lots of fun! We want this to be an opportunity for children to engage deeply with the books they read by being able to retell them to their friend, parent/carer or class.’
Inspirational books that Debbie suggests include David Walliams’ The Boy in the Dress (LGBTQA+, race), Funny Frank by Dick King-Smith (identity), Gina Baker’s The Window, Hazel D. Campbell’s Juice box and Scandal: Three stories on the environment (global issues, waste, environmental impact, climate change) and Dear Olly by Michael Morpurgo (migration).
One year in to its two-year programme, Sankofa – Storytelling for the Digital Age has been working through organisations in Cumbria and London in the UK, and the Czech Republic and Slovakia to build storytelling and digital skills amongst young people. Part of this is sharing stories between schools in these regions. The classes that have signed up explore stories, take inspiration from themes linked to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to develop their own stories which they then film and share with the other schools involved, whether they are in the UK, Slovakia or Czech Republic.
The project has also developed and collated a range of activities that teachers and parents can use. These are all available at the Sankofa website at https://www.sankofa-storytelling.eu/
Debbie believes that ‘The children involved have already improved their conceptual skills and their critical thinking, not to mention their literacy skills. We are also aware that the pupils’ confidence has increased and their social skills benefited through sharing stories.’
Header photo: Image by Mariana Anatoneag on Pixabay.