Child Aid’s first reading program was based in the library located in El Tejar, a few miles up the mountains from Antigua. The program, Aventuras en Lectura (Adventures in Reading) was designed to help school age kids engage in reading during their school year break. Since then Child Aid has continued to run Adventures in Reading during the school year break and has provided training to hundreds of rural librarians, helping them help children develop reading skills they’ll keep for life.
The librarian trainings and Adventures in Reading program both promote reading as well. The library in El Tejar is a perfect example. The librarians here visit three schools each week where they read books with students in 11 different classes. The nearly 400 children in these classes are currently reading a book by Ann Cameron called Colibrí, a story about a Mayan child kidnapped from her parents in Guatemala City and her long journey back to her family. The children read a few chapters each week as a class. After the reading session, the librarians lead the students through activities that help the students develop better critical thinking skills and comprehension skills, and encourage them to use their imagination.
The program has sparked in the students a great interest in reading. Teachers say the kids refer to the stories throughout the week in class. The students are also reading books on their own, partly because of the reading program, but also because the library now has open stacks and a lending program. This means the children can peruse the books and can borrow the ones they like and read them at home.
This is a stark contrast to many communities in Guatemala where books simply do not exist, where students don’t have the opportunity to develop comprehension skills for reading, or learn to enjoy books for pleasure. Through the efforts of Child Aid we are making a difference in many of these communities by providing materials, training, and support and helping children develop better reading skills and stay in school.