Teaching Children to Read
For children in the developing world, learning to read is a critical first step on the path out of poverty. In Guatemala, children who are able to read and think critically—the two most important outcomes of our program—have far greater capacity to find living-wage jobs as adults. They are more likely to continue with school and are better equipped to start businesses of their own. Readers are also more likely to become seekers and imagine a life beyond abject poverty. And with the ability to read they will have the skills they need to begin to realize that life.
A Dire Need for Reading Programs
When it comes to learning to read, children in Guatemala face tremendous challenges. Books are rare, illiteracy is common among adults, and few children are read to in the home. Many have never even put their hands on a book by the time they start school. Because of this, children in Guatemala begin their education without the fundamental pre-literacy skills we take for granted in the developed world. Once children begin school, their challenges are compounded by a neglected educational system and classrooms that are nearly empty of usable books. These hurdles are made even higher by the fact that teachers in rural areas are almost always undertrained and lack the necessary experience to effectively teach and promote reading.
High-Impact Literacy Activities
Through our Reading for Life program, we engage thousands of children in library- and classroom-based literacy activities. These activities are year-round and culturally appropriate for the village settings where we work. They include reading circles, story hours in rural classrooms, book clubs, educational games, and school-break reading programs in community libraries. Compelling to both teachers and children, our Reading for Life activities jump-start literacy skills and encourage a love and habit of reading. Imbued with the desire to read, children in our program are more apt to read on their own, participate in class, become independent thinkers and excel in school.