For the past seven years, the Somali Family Safety Task Force, which is based out of New Holly, where a significant portion of the Somali community lives, has been providing Somali and other East African families with resources around career, education, and personal development. What many people don’t know is that the Task Force is just as invested in preserving connections to Somali language and culture. Since 2017, they have published eight books aimed at Somali American families to practice reading and writing in Somali. The latest five Somali/English bilingual children’s storybooks, which had their book launch in January, were created by the Task Force with the support of Best Starts for Kids.
The author’s journey to make her “Somali side just as strong as my American side” inspired a new educational tool.
by Nura Ahmed
Fadumo Bulale has always been a third-culture kid. Born in the United Arab Emirates in the 1980s, she moved to Somalia when she was very young only to flee the country during the civil war. She moved first to Kampala, Uganda, then to Seattle when she was 13 years old. Having spent her childhood in three separate countries, her sense of identity and belonging felt scrambled because of being “too Somali for the people here and being too American for the people back home,” Bulale said.
Now, Bulale works as an education, equity, and special needs consultant and advocate based in South Seattle. She works with nonprofits, schools, and day cares all over the Seattle area to help them understand the importance of making sure every child is educated effectively. Bulale recently debuted her children’s activity book, My Somali and English Activity Book1. The book is suitable for anyone wanting to learn Somali, and especially for Somali American children who may long for connection to their heritage.
It makes sense that acquiring early reading skills is directly linked to access to books, but what about families with very few books? A small but mighty nonprofit Page Ahead has helped get books into the hands of kids from low-income families in Washington State for over 30 years.
Working with schools where 65% or more of students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs, Page Ahead provides 12 new books per year to every child in kindergarten through second grade. In spite of the pandemic, Page Ahead has found new ways to get books into the hands of kids, including launching the Book Oasis Project. Intentionally installed in identified book deserts, these Book Oases, much like Little Free Libraries, are stocked with new children’s books that are free to anyone. At the beginning of the month, Page Ahead was recognized for their work with a prestigious Library of Congress State Literacy Award.
(This article was originally published on Colorful Pages and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
Black Lives Matter at School Week is the week of Monday, Feb. 1 to Friday, Feb. 5. It is based on a movement to recognize and honor Black lives. The week is built around the 13 values of the Black Lives Matter movement. Each day covers a few of these values:
Monday: Restorative Justice, Empathy, and Loving Engagement
Tuesday: Diversity and Globalism
Wednesday: Trans-Affirming, Queer Affirming, and Collective Value
Thursday: Intergenerational, Black Families, and Black Villages
Friday: Black Women and Unapologetically Black
I am so excited for Black Lives Matter at School Week! It is such a special time where my students, families, school community, and I get to come together to talk about the Black Lives Matter values and how we can uplift and stand up with the Black members of our community. Remember: Every life cannot matter until Black Lives Matter.
The Black Lives Matter at School organization has some absolutely AMAZING (and free) resources to help you enact Black Lives Matter at School Week in your home, classroom, and/or library. There are also other organizations that have created free quality resources. Check out some those resources here:
A day after giving birth to her fourth child, Catrice Dennis felt a strike of inspiration. Sitting on her bed at home with her newborn daughter, looking out the window to the world outside, Dennis whispered the words, “I love you just because.” Suddenly, the material for a new children’s book, I Love You Just Because, flooded her mind.