Words for the world

Laura Griner's never been to Afghanistan. She doesn't speak Dari or Pashto but the University of South Carolina graduate is hoping to bring a little peace to the country, one children's book at a time.

"We think children's books will allow mothers to read to their kids or the kids to read to their mothers, and across the board, it will help educate the country," says Griner, a 2013 master of library information science graduate.

She began working with friends in 2013 to kick-start the Afghan Book Collection, a Greenville-based nonprofit that is working to create a collection of children's books in the Kabul Public Library. Two Afghani translators are translating iconic children's books to Dari and Pashto, the official languages of the country, some for the first time.

Griner, who has been a middle school teacher in Greenville County for 15 years, joined the project because of her passion for literacy. Along with other members of the team, she is helping fight the 28 percent literacy rate of Afghanistan.

"I saw this as a great opportunity to contribute to global literacy and to help children beyond my own shores," she says. But it was her degree from the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies that gave her the skills to help with the project, she says. In her role as "the librarian," Griner has created the website and promotional videos and worked with children's literature resources to get the project moving.

"My degree gave me the confidence to say yes to helping with this amazing global literacy project," she says. "Carolina taught me about the books we are using and it taught me about technology and resources to be a part of this project."

Still in the beginning phase, the project is gathering and translating 50 books to be sent to the Kabul library this summer. That's just the beginning. Griner says she hopes the project will spread across the country where children's books and the publishing industry are limited or nonexistent.

The team hopes to educate Afghan children about the world around them through books with universal themes like love and friendship, books that are informational, and books that teach about other countries and cultures.

"The people of Afghanistan want their country to have peace. They want their country to develop and prosper. Education is the key to having peace and prosperity in that country and literacy is the beginning of education," Griner says. "This project can make a difference for the country and ensure peace."

Learn more

To find out more about the books and the project and how you can help, visit the Afghan Book Collection website.

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