Collaboration on the Horizon


Slowly but irresistibly, it seems, a number of individual and organizations are appearing in the firmament, like planets or comets whose orbits are being affected by the Alphabets, and vice versa, starting to synchronize.

The most recent is Mother Tongue Books, founded by Kate Joyce in Baltimore. Early days yet, but we clearly have common purposes involving endangered writing systems, and I’m sure we’ll be working together soon. As I’m still recovering from knee surgery, which involves opioids that do strange things to my brain, I’m going to mistrust my paraphrasing abilities and allow Kate’s press release to speak for itself:

Outgoing Executive Director of the International Book Bank, Kate Joyce to lead new non-profit organization translating and publishing children’s books to promote literacy in developing countries.

BALTIMORE— Kate Joyce is pleased to announce the creation of Mother Tongue Books, Inc., a new non-profit based in Baltimore whose mission is to promote literacy by providing communities with culturally appropriate storybooks and other educational material in mother tongue languages. Mother Tongue Books, Inc.’s initiative is an extension of Ms. Joyce’s recent work in international literacy and education as the executive director of the International Book Bank. The new endeavor will fulfill a critical gap in global literacy efforts – the lack of mother tongue books for young readers around the globe.

“Literacy rates are consistently low in regions where children are taught in languages they only hear in the classroom. By translating story books into mother tongue languages, children will be able to learn the skills of reading and writing in the languages they speak. Additionally, there’s a much better chance of developing readers when they get to hold a book and turn the pages.” says Ms. Joyce.

Mother Tongue Books intends to collaborate with the International Reading Association (IRA) and the Highlights Foundation to promote its mission. IRA’s global associations (its membership is more than 60,000) have long recognized the need for stories and other educational resources to be made available in mother tongue languages and are excited to work with Mother Tongue Books to develop such resources.

“While some of IRA’s global associations have published books in the regional languages, we are excited to see Mother Tongue Books’ initiative to make great books available in developing economies and provide new resources to our international partners and associations,” says Sakil Malik, Director of Global Operations at the International Reading Association.

Mother Tongue Books and the Highlights Foundation will work together to grow the number of children’s books that are culturally appropriate for children around the world and educate their readers about different cultures, by seeking writers from developing countries with outstanding potential, then providing workshops, mentoring and other professional guidance through Highlights’ extensive network to improve the quality and diversity of children’s books written in and about emerging economies around the world.