For nearly twenty years, new graduates of the Harvard Graduate School of Education have been carrying and waving children’s books as they enter Harvard Yard for the commencement ceremony. This tradition emphasizes the importance of children’s literacy and inclusion, as the books represent different cultures from around the world.
This year amongst copies of The Hungry Caterpillar and A Snowy Day will be several copies of Harvard Doctoral Candidate Maung Nyeu’s children’s books. These multilingual books are based on stories collected by children of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), Bangladesh. The books contain moral and civic values and the wisdom of generations and help revitalize endangered languages and revive vanishing cultures.
Nyeu’s project is possible due to funding from the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute for his travels to mountain villages of Bangladesh to visit schools and collect stories. The funding enabled him to publish and distribute books in Bangladesh. So far, he has distributed over 6,000 of these books to children who never owned a children’s book in their lives. With the support of a Mittal Institute summer grant, he plans to return to CHT and distribute 4,000 more copies.
Links to other articles about Nyeu’s books:
“People Making Difference” in Christian Science Monitor
The Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute featured story “Saving a culture, book by book”
National Geographic Society: First Person: Save a Language, Save a Culture.
Stories Matter: Harvard Graduate School of Education