‘Island Life’: A collaborative children’s book
A new children's book about cultural exchange and environmental action, titled Island Life, was launched on October 2, 2023. The book is a shared initiative of the High Commission of the Republic of Maldives, HerStory Foundation, and the online education platform CholPori.
Written by Senjuti Shonima Nadi and Maeesha Wajid, and edited by Salzar Rahman and Katerina Don, the book tells the story of Shapla, a little girl from Urirchar in Bangladesh, as she visits the Rihaa island in the Maldives. The book connects the things she sees in the foreign country with similar sites in Bangladesh, such as providing information about the Sundarbans after mentioning Shapla encounters Mangrove in Bangladesh. Through visualising the beautiful island nation of the Maldives and the unique environmental features of Bangladesh, the book hopes to foster an appreciation for our shared natural heritage and raise climate awareness.
The beautiful storybook is illustrated by 'the children of Bangladesh', according to the editorial team, as each page includes a picture drawn by students of Friendship NGO schools, Bharateswari Homes, Baridhara Scholars' International School and College, Chittagong Grammar School (Dhaka), Little Jewels School, Sir John Wilson School, Sydney International School, Apple Tree International School, and St. Joseph Higher Secondary School. These drawings were the submissions of a children's art competition held on October 3, 2022 under the theme 'Island Life'.
H E Shiruzimath Sameer, High Commissioner of the Maldives to Bangladesh said, "I am amazed and impressed by the enthusiastic support and the exceptional artworks by the children from different schools in Bangladesh. Our aim is to showcase the talent of these young artists and how they visualise our beautiful island nation. The educational storybook also aims to create awareness on the topic of the unique environment of the Maldives and Bangladesh through joy and engaging illustrations. In addition, the book will highlight the importance of preserving nature, lifestyle and cultures of both countries."
Founder of HerStory Foundation, Zareen Mahmud Hosein said, "Island Life is an important step in developing understanding through cultural exchange between the two countries. Through this book, we learn to appreciate their individuality and commonality, as well as recognise our shared concern over climate change. Through the adventure of a little girl from an island in Bangladesh to the Waterworld of the Maldives, we celebrate the long-lasting friendship between the people of both nations."
When asked about why the Maldives and Bangladesh were chosen to tell this tale, Katerina Don, an editor of Island Life, shared, "HerStory Publications specialises in children's books that promote positive role models and actions. If climate action is taught to kids in the early years of school, they will naturally feel responsibility and respect for the environment. Bangladesh and the Maldives are very vulnerable to rising sea waters, and this book is a message to the youth of both nations to nurture appreciation and responsibility for the bio and cultural diversity of not just their nations, but the world."
Available for purchase at Aarong, Bookworm and Rokomari.com, the book is informative and promising in its goal of inflicting a love for and a sense of responsibility in children to take an active interest in protecting their environment.
Amrin Tasnim Rafa is a former intern at SHOUT and currently an intern at Star Books and Literature.