Ethiopia Reads Co-founder Jane Kurtz Receives IBBY Award For Her Work With Ethiopian Children

Jane Kurtz (right), who grew up in Ethiopia, is the Co-Founder of Ethiopia Reads, a U.S.-based non-profit that has been promoting a culture of reading in Ethiopia for more than two-decades. Since it was established in 1998 Ethiopia Reads has published hundreds of popular local children's books and English translations for Diaspora children in addition to opening over 70 libraries in every part of Ethiopia. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 25th, 2022

New York (TADIAS) — The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has named Jane Kurtz, the Co-Founder of Ethiopia Reads, the winner of the 2022 iRead Outstanding Reading Promoter Award.

In a press release announcing the award IBBY said the winners “are inspiring examples of reading promoters who show us how one person can truly make a difference, especially when we work together.”

According to its website IBBY “is a non-profit organization, which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together.”

Jane, who was raised in Ethiopia, co-founded Ethiopia Reads in 1998 to promote “a culture of reading in Ethiopia” and to serve as “a model for others to follow in support of the next generation of Ethiopian parents, teachers, and leaders.”

Since it was established more than two-decades ago Ethiopia Reads has published hundreds of popular local children’s books (in several Ethiopian languages) and English translations for Diaspora children in addition to opening over 70 libraries in every part of Ethiopia.

In a statement Ethiopia Reads said its proud of it’s founder’s accomplishments:

60+ years ago, a young Jane Kurtz was raised with her siblings in a far away magical place called Maji in southwest Ethiopia. She grew up to become one of the ultimate creative minds and literacy champion for Ethiopian children! We couldn’t be prouder of Ethiopia Reads’ Cofounder, longtime leader and Advisor @JaneKurtz on her award by @IBBYINT as IBBY-iRead Outstanding Reader Promoter for her 30+ years of consistent work supporting children reading in Ethiopia. We look forward to the second round of 100 Ethiopian local language books coming soon. Please support Jane’s work by checking out #ReadySetGo titles by Open Hearts Big Dreams on Amazon.”

The award announcement added:

Jane Kurtz grew up in Ethiopia and has spent the last 25 years helping to develop indigenous authors and illustrators in Ethiopia—and in multiple languages—while also establishing an infrastructure for publishing books and promoting literacy with training for teachers and librarians. Her work began in 1998 when she co-founded Ethiopia Reads and developed a strategy for starting libraries to support literacy development. In early 2016, Jane initiated a workshop in Ethiopia with artists, children and adult volunteers, which resulted in a prototype for Ready Set Go books—colourful, easy-to-read, culturally appropriate, and published in English and one local language. Jane’s work with literacy addresses the challenges of multiple official languages; lack of books reflecting Ethiopian culture, history, and landscape; obstacles in the translation, publication, and distribution process; and insufficient professional opportunities for educators and librarians. With her vision and collaboration with others, she has planted the seeds of literacy all over Ethiopia.”

For more information, about the winners and about IBBY go to www.ibby.org. And learn more about Ethiopia Reads at www.ethiopiareads.org.

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