Mayor Coleman announces Library’s publishing of two children’s books in Karen language

Mayor Coleman announces Library’s publishing of two children’s books in Karen language

Saint Paul is home to largest Karen population in the U.S.

Mayor Chris Coleman today (December 16, 2015) announced that the Saint Paul Public Library has curated and published two Karen language children’s books, the first to be published by a public library in the state. The Mayor will be handing out a limited number of the children’s books at Arlington Hills Community Center’s Karen Storytime on Saturday, December 19, 2015, at noon. The two books will also be read at the storytime, which is free and open to the public.

 “This incredible project shows the Library’s strong commitment to being 21st century centers of learning, as well as leaders in equity across the city,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “Saint Paul has a long history of welcoming immigrants and promoting equity, and these storybooks are so much more than words on a page – they’re an opportunity for children in our community to learn and have bright, successful futures.”


  • WHO:        Mayor Chris Coleman
  • WHAT:      Handing out of SPPL-published children’s books* at Karen Storytime (the books will also be read for the first time in Karen by library staff)
  • WHEN:     Saturday, December 19, 2015, 12:00 p.m.
  • WHERE:  Arlington Hills Community Center, 1200 Payne Ave, Saint Paul

*A limited supply of books will be distributed at the event.

The library commissioned original texts from Saint Paul authors Win World and Saw Powder, as well as original color illustrations from children’s book illustrators Betsy LePlatt and Jingo de la Rosa, to create the books Elephant Huggy and The Hen and the Badger. With the support of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library as well as Sandra Schloff, the authors and illustrators teamed up with librarians, educators and Karen community members to produce the two books in both Karen and English.

“Saint Paul is home to the largest and fastest-growing Karen population in the U.S., and before this project, we greatly lacked early literacy resources in the Karen language,” said Saint Paul Public Library Director Jane Eastwood. “We produced these books with the goal of creating an environment of learning and discovery for all residents that access our libraries.”

The Saint Paul Public Library will distribute the books to Karen organizations and school libraries, and will circulate them as print and e-books. In addition, the books will be available digitally through the Minnesota Reflections collection of the Minnesota Digital Library. In early 2016, they will be available for purchase on

“Saint Paul values reading in all languages,” said City Councilmember and Library Board Chair Chris Tolbert. “This is one of the many ways we can support reading, while also supporting the Karen community.”

The Karen is an ethnic group from the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, also known as Burma, and Thailand. They have long been subject to government persecution. Many lived in refugee camps before resettling in Minnesota, where there are approximately 6,500 Karen currently residing.

About Saint Paul Public Library

Saint Paul Public Library connects people in Saint Paul with the imperative and the joy of learning through a lifetime. Saint Paul residents can enjoy free access to technology, books, movies, music, classes and more. We’re located in 12 neighborhood libraries, George Latimer Central Library, and the Bookmobile. Visit us in your neighborhood or online at