English Learners' Den in the Korunni Library

A press release from Class Acts

The Prague Municipal Library, Korunni branch, is -- as of November 2, 2011 -- offering its readers a new collection of children’s books in English which were collected as part of the project Storybridge.

The idea was conceived by Leah Gaffen with other members of Class Acts, a nonprofit organization that brings together English-speaking and bilingual families in Prague and organizes numerous children’s activities and cultural events for children in English. In 2010 Class Acts was awarded the prestigious European LABEL prize for creativity in language teaching.

"The name Storybridge comes from the idea that telling stories can bring people together and stories can work as a bridge between cultures," says Leah Gaffen. "The goal of the project is primarily to contribute to the quality and resources for the teaching of English in schools, but it also aims to increase children’s awareness of multiculturalism through storytelling and bring volunteers into libraries and schools."

The Storybridge project was launched this past spring with book drive organized by Class Acts to collect English children’s books for the Korunni library.  Numerous other organizations and schools joined Class Acts in the effort to collect books – the Prague British School, Riverside School, the International Women's Association of Prague, the Prague Christian Library, the English International School of Prague and the Christian International School of Prague.

"Up to now, we have been given over 1300 English children's books. The collection is extremely diverse – picture books, early readers‘ books, teenage romances, horror stories, science fiction and fantasy," says librarian Michaela Krýslová. "Children will be able to find books by their favorite authors which they know in their Czech translations (Roald Dahl, Philip Pullman, Jacqueline Wilson), as well as to discover other famous writers whose books have not yet been translated (Julia Donaldson, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo)."

Of course, this is not the end of the Storybridge project. Leah Gaffen will lead a teacher training program in Korunni on storytelling – using interactive methods to read picture books to children using puppets and other theatrical devices.  The course is intented not only for English teachers but also for volunteers – parents and students. And regular storytelling for children will be organized at library Korunni as well, the first one will take place on 9. November 2011 at 4 p.m.

The Department of English Language and Literature of Masaryk University in Brno is also participating in this project, which is funded by the US Embassy in Prague.

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