LED BY THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM (WFP), THE "Integrated school feeding and literacy program" is inspiring children to read more and reconcile any frustration with books
May 12, 2019 — Research has shown the positive effects of dramatized storytelling on language development and student achievement. Children at Afferi Elementary, a school of 3 classes in Bondoukou, in the region of Gontougo, Ivory Coast, are no exception.
"I come to the library, looking for the book our teacher just read because when I read it again, I can understand even better the story and the lessons in the book," says third-grader Dongo Yao Bricono.
Dongo is one of the students who attends the dramatized storytelling sessions brought by AVSI to his school thanks to the Integrated School Feeding and Literacy Program funded by USDA/McGovern-Dole Program.
Every Wednesday, Konate Abdoulaye, a 3rd-grade teacher, leads the storytelling. Under the mango trees, sitting on mats, in silence and paying full attention, the students follow carefully every move, gesture and word. After a minute of introduction, Abdoulaye starts reading the book, with different gestures and voices.
On April 3, the title chosen was "The secret to becoming a good cook," the story of Pauline, a woman with a big sweet tooth. Students loved the story and laughed out loud with the character's adventures. Afterward, students and teacher shared what they liked about the story and what the story made them think.
For the teacher, dramatized storytelling is the reading activity that can inspire children to read more and reconcile any mistrust or frustrations with books.
"This activity allows me to give a taste of what reading can be like to my students. These dramatizations help me introduce them to the world and joy reading brings," says Konate Abdoulaye. "These dramatizations are effective. It makes me happy that, as a result, students go to the libraries, looking for a new book to read."
As the teacher predicted, and as soon as the dramatized storytelling was over, Dongo Yao Bricono and his peers rushed to the library to reread the same story, to relive what they had just heard.
"I like reading every word in the book and remember how our teacher moved or gestured while reading the same words," says Dongo, who with his classmates, has become a "friend of reading" since the activity began.
In addition to the extra reading activities, the school headmaster created a reading-friendly environment. Students can find syllable charts, reading boards and other writings all over the schoolyard. The greater availability of material helps children develop their reading skills, even when they don't have books in their hands.