Moving is almost always more difficult than predicted. Faced with the slightly-too-rough moving guys, the unpredictable extra expenses, and the rearrangement of your entire life in a new location, moving can be hectic, to say the least. But as adults we can make lists, budgets and schedules to wrap our heads around the change. Children on the other hand, have no such luxury—especially when moving to a foreign country.
The International Children’s Digital Library is hoping to make this transition easier for young children. Those responsible for the ICDL are hoping to gather a large collection of children’s books online (both historical and contemporary) that represent every culture and every language spoken on the globe. The goal of such a project is to allow children to remain connected to their heritage, while also exploring new cultures (especially when relocating) through “the riches of children’s literature.”
Founded at the University of Maryland, the ICDL is comprised of an interdisciplinary research team comprised of computer scientists, librarians, educational technologists, teachers, graphic designers, graduate students, and now, hundreds of volunteers around the world. The organization is non-profit, and users of the website are encouraged to volunteer their time or become members by donating.
The site’s users are extremely diverse; and 2009 the site was visited by 228 countries, and browse-able in 16 different languages including: Spanish, Persian, Mongolian, Croatian, Portuguese, Hebrew, and Thai. Director Tim Browne writes that the ICDL’s mission is “to prepare children for life in an ethnically and culturally diverse world by building the world’s largest online multicultural repository of children’s literature,” and clearly there have already been great strides.
With the ICDL, children and adults have access to some of their favorite books—and the favorite books of their friends—making the transition from one country to another slightly less intimidating. Sure, the house is in shambles and you don’t speak French, but at least you can curl up with hot cocoa and read Mother Goose stories. You can read them in English first, but when you’re finished, don’t forget the hieroglyphics version is waiting.