However, in many places in the world, their creative voices are rarely heard or cultivated. Rakonto teaches storytelling and collects and shares stories told by unexpected authors: children from underserved communities.
As a spin-off of research conducted at Stanford, our workshops build on children's natural potential to become original storytellers. In doing so, we help children strengthen and take pride in their self-expressive powers and local traditions, to realize their capacity for positive social change, and to find coherence and meaning in their lives. At the end, each student takes home a batch of completed stories to call their own, which we send in fully-illustrated form to the homes of other learners around the world. By providing a context for intimate cultural exchange, we spread cross-cultural understanding, and a message of hope.
Our program is composed of a simple 3-step process:
Students of all ages learn a real-world, creative, and collaborative methodology based on Design Thinking principles, and are then challenged to use those principles in creating their own stories from scratch. More about how a workshop works
We Prepare Storybooks
After presenting these stories to their classmates, we get to work illustrating and printing these stories, to be shared with families and other learners worldwide.
Our Sustainable Cycle
The proceeds from these storybooks then go to fund future workshops. This allows us to offer workshops at no cost to underserved communities. In other words, students’ education, expression, and self-discovery provide for that of future students.
Our storytelling workshops impact these communities, their students and teachers, and other learners around the world in more than one way. Through them we hope to...
Enshrine the value of literacy
Engender a wordly perspective
Produce sustainable impact
Demonstrate positive role models
Inspire new pedagogical practices
Strenghten cultural heritages
Incite cultural exchange
Provide tools for living meaningfully
What goes into a storybook?
... contains an original and engaging story written by a child author during our workshops, providing a window into a child authors’ imagination and their world. The ones that we choose to print, besides being precociously well-written, are stories tackle issues or themes with local importance and global relevance and affirm the importance of hope in the face of struggle.
The storybooks contain a feature about the community from which the story comes, and the personal story of the child author. Their stories are all translated into English (hopefully other languages soon, too!) from the native language of the author, with the original text included in an addendum. The storybooks are also filled with expert illustrations to accompany and give extra life to the children's’ prose. They can and should be read by anyone above age four, not just adolescents.
All of these full-color prints are bound in a 10”x8” matte hardcover that runs about 32 pages long.
"At her home in the Karoo, where Leo lived with he father, there was so much silence. She’d climb the koppie and lie back on the warm rocks, staring at the sky. Sometimes you could hear the wind in the grass, other times an eagle would call, or you’d hear the distant bark of a jackal or that strange grunt that wildebeests make. But these were all small noises – they just brushed the silence like leaf shadows on a wall.”