Being able to criss-cross the globe on the strength of the Internet has made it possible to engage with creative ideas, conversations, and experiences which otherwise would be beyond our reach—and at times, even beyond our imagination. On The Same Page will bring to the reader of Torchlight, a combination of textual-audio-visual curated content, about and around libraries and bookish love.
“And I say to myself, ‘What a wonderful world!'”
From the 1990s, school classrooms across the world started to become ethnically and culturally more diverse. As populations migrated from their home countries—by choice or compulsion—immigrant cultures and languages permeated classrooms. The need to understand and be understood by classmates is daunting for a child who speaks a different tongue. How does a student who arrives in California from Vietnam share the experiences of her Californian classmates? How will she also stay connected to the life she has left behind? Teachers and parents were in need of resources that would bring down language barriers, promote intercultural understanding, and at the same time give children of minority cultures continued access to their unique heritage.
In November 2002, an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Maryland, USA, launched the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) “to prepare children for life in an ethnically and culturally diverse world by building the world’s largest online multicultural repository of children’s literature.” The collection of more than 4000 books from more than 40 countries, in 59 languages includes outstanding books from around the world and from as far back as the early 19th century. ICDL offers an informative and charming way to “read the world” particularly for children between 3-13 years of age as well as parents, teachers, librarians, and scholars of children’s literature. The variety of languages supported by ICDL creates an inclusive reading space. Even when books such as Koko and the Ghosts in Croatian, Artful Little Alimaa in Mongolian and Not Far From School in Farsi find a relatively small readership across the world, they have the power to fire the imagination and start curious, respectful conversations in homes and classrooms about people and places, about sameness and difference. They can stir in a child the desire to learn a new language, visit a distant country, and make friends with those living in cultures yet unfamiliar.
The ICDL’s search interface is designed to be not only friendly but also fair. The collection can be searched in 20 different languages (including Pashto and Hebrew) with multiple ways to search through the smorgasbord of books—by keywords, country, authors and illustrators, and award-winning books. The Simple Search which takes the graphical path is the most attractive and has books categorised by age, genre, length of books, feelings, types of characters, and even the colour of book covers!
If you are a library aficionado, this magnificent resource built “book by book, byte by byte” with the help of hundreds of volunteers is to be celebrated. Come step into A Library for the World’s Children and discover for yourself what more it has to offer.