An Ethiopian Odyssey: The Final Days (Making Books)

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The rest of my days in Ethiopia found me in the capital city. I’m not a city girl; no matter the country, I love the countryside. Addis Ababa is a bustling, rapidly growing city. It reportedly has a population of 3,384,569, with a growth rate of 3.8 percent, but  both numbers are widely considered underrated, according to Wikipedia.

But it gives you an idea. The city is chaotic, but it has a certain energy and bustle that is charming. I catch glimpses of the mountains surrounding Addis in the distance and I find peace.

Today we are here for bookmaking, and bookmaking we shall do!

First is bookmaking day. My dear friend Jane Kurtz is a very accomplished children’s book  author who grew up here in Ethiopia. She is also the co-founder of Ethiopia Reads. She has a passion for literacy in Ethiopia. Her dream for an Ethiopian Odyssey II was to create simple early reading books for children in their own language. Their are over 80 languages in Ethiopia, but school is always taught in Amharic. Then by, grade 7, school is in English.

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What we have learned is millions of kids never get to read a book in their own spoken language, and studies show this makes learning Amharic and then English that much harder. Plus, doesn’t every early learner deserve books to read? We think so. And so we —  the Ethiopian Odyssey II team, working with Ethiopia Reads — schedule a day working with local children to illustrate and write books.

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And so we did, all day long. We created. This is just the starting point for the bookmaking, we will have much art to do back in the States, but the ideas, the storylines, the starting points for illustration, has happened here in Ethiopia, on this day, with these kids, and that, my friends, is a bit of the extraordinary!

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In our next blog you will get to visit the artists’ studios … stay tuned. In the meantime, you can read more about Ethiopia Reads and An Ethiopian Odyssey by clicking here.

About Stephanie Schlatter Art

Stephanie Schlatter is an Artist who draws from the world for inspiration. While she calls Grand Rapids, Michigan, home she’s often off on new adventures. For more than a decade, her journeys have taken her across the globe. She has studied art both locally and abroad, including time in Mexico, where she decided to shift her focus from photography to painting. Stephanie's travels led her to found Absolutely Art: A Project for Change in 2006. Through this non-profit organization, she brings art instruction to the children of Ethiopia while supporting their education. Stephanie's work reflects an expression influenced by other cultures which resonates a variety of influences that have given her work direction.

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