When Marj Terpstra — assistant professor of education at Calvin College and mom to Eerdmans Internet marketing manager Ahna Ziegler — traveled to Africa recently to prepare for an upcoming course and to visit her sister Jean Selles, who teaches at The Esther School in Zambia, she didn’t go empty handed.

“The 2012-2013 school year was the first for The Esther School located near Chongwe, Zambia, although many people have been working on it for several years,” Terpstra explains. “Sponsored by the GEMS Girls Clubs, the school aims to develop faithful and skilled servant leaders in a rural area about an hour outside of Lusaka, Zambia. The school opened its doors to preschool and Kindergarten students last September and plans to add a grade each coming year.”

Because of her connection to Selles, Ziegler says, “My mom got the idea to bring some students down there with her next May for an Interim class. This recent trip was to do some scoping out and planning.”

Terpstra didn’t want to visit the school, though, without also bringing a gift for the students — and she knew just the thing.

“Last year when my sister was gathering materials for her classroom, we noticed that the books were primarily North American-based, so I’ve since been on the lookout for books with African characters or settings,” she says.

“When Ahna handed me the Eerdmans catalog, I was thrilled to find a number of African stories and books with multicultural images. Ahna and the crew at Eerdmans Bookstore graciously helped me find and purchase The Lord is My Shepherd, The Story of Queen Esther (fitting for the Esther School), The Bible for Young Children, The Herd Boy, and My Name is Sangoel for the preschool and Kindergarten classes. A Girl Called Problem and Son of a Gun fit best in the school library for the eventual older students and community readers.”

“When Jean introduced the books to her students, they excitedly listened to and looked at the books, naming themselves or their friends in the pictures that looked so much like them.”

“We hope there will be more EBYR books next year when the Calvin College students visit the Esther School and several Lusaka area schools!”

Check out the photos below to see students at The Esther School interacting with a couple of their new EBYR books.

The Herd Boy

The Herd Boy

EBYR in Zambia

The Bible for Young Children

EBYR in Zambia2

The Bible for Young Children

The Herd Boy

The Herd Boy

The Bible for Young Children

The Bible for Young Children

Our thanks to Marj Terpstra and Jean Selles for sharing their photos and memories with us, and to Ahna Ziegler for tipping us off to this great story!