‘Adventures in Reading’ Newspaper Celebrates Success Stories

Librarian Gloria Muños Garcia reads to students in the San Miguel Morazón library.

Librarian Gloria Muños Garcia reads to students in the San Miguel Morazón library.

To commemorate another successful year of our school break reading program, last month the Child Aid staff put together it’s first “Adventures in Reading Newspaper.” Articles contributed by both staff and librarians highlighted activities, special events and accomplishments from the 36 school, community and municipal libraries who participated in the program this year.

Library Coordinator Carlos Pos leads a small group discussion identifying areas of success in this year's Adventures in Reading program.

Library Coordinator Carlos Pos leads a small group discussion with librarians aboutidentifying areas of success in this year’s Adventures in Reading program.

The newspaper was shared with librarians at a wrap-up event held December 6th in Tecpán. Librarians and staff gathered to celebrate their accomplishments, share their experiences and discuss ways to improve and expand their programs next year.

The articles and group discussions focused around three aspects of the Adventures in Reading program: promotion and community outreach, educational programs and activities and techniques for engaging kids and maintaining attendance.

“This event is a celebration, but we also approach it as part of the librarians’ training,” said Library Development Coordinator Carlos Pos. “It gives them an opportunity to reflect on the work they have done. It is also a way for librarians from different communities to share and learn from each other.”

This year, a total of 2,300 children between the ages of 5 and 14 years participated in the Adventures in Reading programs which were held from late October through early December.

The "Periodico Adventureas de Lectura" shared success stories stories from Child Aid's school break reading program.

The “Periodico Adventureas de Lectura” shared success stories stories from Child Aid’s school break reading program.

During their time in the library, the children had the opportunity to hear books being read, write their own stories, read independently and play educational games in spaces designed for use by every age. Some libraries also integrated other activities with themes related to the environment, arts and crafts.

To enhance the educational depth of the programs, this year staff and librarians worked together to add several new activities. In addition to regular read-aloud sessions, many libraries hosted book clubs for higher level readers.  Run by Child Aid staff, the clubs gave kids the experience of reading more challenging books and sharing their thoughts and opinions in a discussion group. Libraries also focused on a variety of writing activities such as producing a school newspaper, creating personal journals and writing contests.

At the end of the wrap-up event, the Child Aid team presented awards to individuals and libraries to acknowledge and celebrate their efforts and accomplishments in the three focus areas. The librarians expressed satisfaction with the success of the Adventures in Reading program this year and the importance of their work promoting a love of reading and writing with the children in their communities.


Excerpts from the Adventures in Reading Newspaper

Read a selection of articles submitted by Child Aid staff and participating librarians and see photos from this year’s program.

El Tejar Mayor Visits Adventures in Reading
By Marielena Ixen, Child Aid Literacy Trainer

On November 11th, municipal officials from El Tejar visited the children at the library at San Miguel Morazán to attend a session of Adventures in Reading run by librarian Amalia Muñoz.

During the visit, Mr. Manolo Méndez, mayor of El Tejar and a former librarian, read the story of the “Beautiful Nose of the Grandmother” to more than eighty children. During the reading, he highlighted the characters and important events of the story, ending with some questions to get the children’s participation. He was happy to see the smiles and attention of every one of the children while they listened attentively to the story.

After the reading, the mayor and his wife congratulated all of the children for participating in the Adventures in Reading program and for taking advantage of the opportunity to help themselves prepare for a better future.

Literacy Trainer Marielena Ixel reads to a group of students at the Melotto School library in El Tejar.

Literacy Trainer Marielena Ixel reads to a group of students at the Melotto School library in El Tejar. The library celebrated it’s sixth year running the Adventures in Reading programs.

Adventures in Reading a Big Success in Sumpango
By Luis Cubur, Librarian, Sumpango Municipal Library

In the Sumpango municipal library, we had a fabulous and entertaining Adventures in Reading program during the school vacation this year.

More than 200 boys and girls of different ages and from different schools in the city participated in the program. The program was planned and directed by head librarian Telma Morales. For two hours per week, the children gathered to hear stories read aloud, participate in activities and enjoy spending time in the library with many books to read.

For me, this program is very important because it helps the children get involved in the world of reading. Also, they can participate in something positive and not spend all of their vacation time at home watching television. I would recommend that the program not only be held during the vacations but also throughout the year because we have very little culture of reading in our communities.

Child Aid's Jorge Sanum leads the book club at the Tzumpago municipal library.

Child Aid’s Jorge Sanum leads the book club at the Sumpago municipal library. The group met weekly to read and discuss books together.

The “Bookworms” Book Club
By Evelyn Camey, Child Aid Literacy Trainer

This year, the library in Chicacao, Suchitepéquez held it’s first book club as part of the Adventures in Reading program. Twenty youths read a book titled “El Libro Salvaje” (“The Wild Book”) by author Juan Villoro. They showed much interest and enthusiasm to be part of the club.

All of the students had participated in the Adventures in Reading program last year. So this year, they were ready to challenge themselves with a book more than 200 pages long! The kids attended every Tuesday and Thursday during the month of November. They started each session doing different activities and reading part of the book. They also had the opportunity to talk about the book with their fellow participants, sharing their observations and making connections between the story and their own lives. For the students, the purpose of the club was to enjoy themselves, form the habit of reading and become better readers.

Participants in the Tzumpago Adventures in Reading were able to check out books to read at home. A boy shows off his selections.

Participants in the Sumpago Adventures in Reading were able to check out books to read at home. A boy enthusiastically shows off his selections.

An Early Start on Reading
by Norma Guzmán, Child Aid Literacy Trainer

The Child of Hope Project works with affiliated families with scarce resources, offering them health and education services for their children. This year the librarians from the Child of Hope Project’s library integrated activities for children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old into their Adventures in Reading program, giving these young children an early introduction to books and reading.

The librarians demonstrated to the mothers how to read a book to their children, giving the children the the experience of manipulating and browsing a book. Using the technique of asking “What are the characters thinking?” the mothers were shown how to address themes such as the feelings of the characters in the book, giving the children the opportunity describe what they observe in the story and illustrations.

This is the first year that Lesbia Morales is participating in the program. She has three children, ages 12, 5 and 3. Lesbia commented that the project complements another Child of Hope program called “Nurturing with Affection,” allowing her to educate and raise her children with love and care.

Lesbia can especially see the change in her youngest child, three-year-old Fátima. Lesbia says Fátima expresses herself better, talks more and has an improved vocabulary. Also, when Fátima goes out of the house, she makes connections with what she has seen in her books.

Lesbia thinks the program is a great benefit, not only for Fatima but also for the other children who are now better at reading. She is proud of what she is learning so she can help her children have a better education. Now she dedicates time every day to read with her children. They enjoy learning how to read together.

Members of the book club work on identifying unfamiliar words from their book "La Sopresa de la Noche."

Members of the book club work on identifying unfamiliar words from their book “La Sopresa de la Noche.”

Adventures in Reading Makes Young Journalists
By Jeremias Morales and Graciela Landa, Child Aid Training Coordinators

Child Aid always looks for ways to innovate and improve the reading and writing of children in the communities where we work. This year, we wanted to improve the Adventures in Reading program by creating a bridge between being a reader and becoming a writer. We introduced the children to how to become a writer through the magnificent tool of the school newspaper. This experience gave the children the opportunity to practice the writing process and write for a variety of audiences and try a variety of types of writing.

They began by writing news articles about local events. Later they conducted interviews with parents or prominent people in their communities. Through the medium of writing, they were able to make connections between previous knowledge and new knowledge.

During the course of the development of the school papers, the boys and girls had the opportunity to participate as reporters, editors or photographers but all gave their ideas and opinions about what they wanted to write about and communicate to the community.

With faces full of smiles and pride, the children participated with much enthusiasm and interest during these sessions of Adventures in Reading. The experience encouraged them to practice the characteristics of good writers.

We hope that more teachers and librarians will learn to use this newspaper activity with their students because it offers diverse reasons and audiences for the student’s writing and will help them find real success during this important phase of becoming a good reader and writer.

Student writing journals on display.

Student writing journals on display. This year librarians integrated a variety of writing activities into the Adventures in Reading program.

Spreading Reading Through the Community
By Graciela Landa, Child Aid Training Coordinator and Nancy Santizo, Child Aid Literacy Trainer

This year, the kids participating in the Adventures in Reading program in Agua Escondida joined with the librarian and the Child Aid team for walks through the town’s streets to promote reading in the community.

The walks were held every Friday during the month of November, inviting the community to access and use the books in the local library. The kids carried various books from the library with them and offered to loan books to people they met in homes and on the street who were interested in reading. The walks also promoted the library’s programs within the community and the importance of developing a habit of reading, not just for the children but for all of the members of the community.

Categories: News
01/24/2014 8:12 AM | 0 Comments

Teaching Students Bring ‘Adventures in Reading’ Back to Their Communities

Socorro de Belen Graduation

Instructor Jorge Sanum (far right) with teaching students from the Socorro de Belen school.

After two years of studying to become teachers, the students at the Socorro de Belen school took on their last and most challenging assignment. Last month they returned to their hometowns to set up and run Adventures in Reading, Child Aid’s school break literacy program, in their communities.

At the end of the school year, the students gathered to collect their certificates of completion and receive packets of storybooks that they used for read-aloud sessions and writing activities, sharing what they’ve learned with a new generation of readers.

They also got some last minute instructions and encouragement from Teaching Training Coordinator and Instructor Jorge Sanum.

“It is a challenge for such young students to start a literacy program in their communities, especially finding a space and recruiting students,” said Sanum. “They are all a bit nervous but also determined.”

Socorro de Belen Teacher Training

Instructor Jorge Sanum demonstrates techniques for conducting a read-aloud session.

The students are part of a unique Child Aid program at Socorro de Belen, a private Catholic school in Antigua that provides scholarships for indigenous women to become teachers. For the past two years, in addition to their regular studies, the students met weekly with instructor Jorge Sanum to develop their their own reading and writing skills and learn techniques for teaching reading comprehension and critical thinking in the classroom.

In Guatemala, most teacher training programs are taught at the high school level, where students get a basic certification to teach.

“We’ve found that most of the teaching students have poor primary education backgrounds themselves and lack basic reading comprehension and critical thinking skills, says Country Director John van Keppel. “That was especially true for the the Socorro students, who come from very rural and impoverished communities.”

“So we designed a two year program for them. The first year focuses on helping them develop reading and writing skills, using many of the activities and techniques we teach in our Reading for Life program. In the second year we reinforce those skills and help them develop the ability to include them in their teaching when they go back to their communities.”

Through the generosity of the Paiz Foundation, Child Aid is able to offer this program to a total of three schools and 227 students.

Student Flor de María Escobar Coc says the class has given her a new understanding of her role as a teacher as well as practical skills she can use in the classroom.

“My favorite part was learning the techniques” she says, “because it showed me that learning is not only about listening but can also be about participating. I feel that after this experience I can be a better teacher, at least I hope to be. I know now how to treat each child because each child is different in how they learn.”

Socorro students select books to use in their Adventures in Reading programs.

Socorro students select books to use in their Adventures in Reading programs.

For their final assignment, students began preparing for their Adventures in Reading programs in September. They reviewed books and made a book plan, practiced read-aloud techniques, planned and found materials for additional activities and decided how they were going to promote the program and recruit kids to participate.

“The assignment is voluntary,” said Sanum, “but we had 35 of the 37 students at Socorro de Belen participate. Each of the students will do the program differently depending on their time and resources. Many are running their programs in their parents’ homes because there isn’t a library or school space available.”

“The Adventures in Reading piece is an important part of their training,” added Sanum, “because it will give these students opportunities to apply the skills they’ve learned and develop some community leadership experience.”

Categories: News
12/3/2013 6:49 AM

Librarians Gather for ‘Adventures in Reading’ Workshop

Adventures in Reading Workshop

The Guatemalan school year ends in October and as schools begin to wind down, Child Aid staff and partner libraries are getting ready to launch another year of Adventuras de Lectura (Adventures in Reading), Child Aid’s school break reading program.

This past week, forty-seven librarians gathered in Antigua for the first of three Adventures in Reading workshops. They came to learn the basics of how to plan and run the program in their libraries but also to get ideas for planning weekly themes, selecting books for different reading levels and creating activities that help get kids involved in reading. In addition, they received a new packet of storybooks to take back to their libraries and use in the program.

“In the communities where we work, many of our children don’t have the habit of reading,” says Rigoberto Chacach, coordinator of two community libraries near Tecpan, Chimaltenango. “During the vacations, the kids simply stay at home or hang around and they don’t have a lot to do. With this program, we have a plan for how to get kids to the library, capture their attention and develop different activities for them.”

Literacy Trainer Nancy Samayoa leads a group of librarians in Child Aid's Adventures in Reading workshop.

Literacy Trainer Nancy Samayoa leads a group of librarians in Child Aid’s Adventures in Reading workshop.

“The most important goal of the program is that the students continue to enjoy reading during their vacations,” adds Child Aid Library Coordinator Carlos Pos. “In this country, kids don’t have many opportunities to be read to and have contact with books, especially during the break. So when the librarians are reading to the kids every day, they really enjoy it.”

Started seven years ago with a single library in the community of El Tejar, Adventures in Reading is Child Aid’s oldest reading program. This year, 36 participating libraries from around Guatemala will host programs, including school, municipal and community libraries.

Most programs are between four and six weeks long, depending on the size of the library, with a different theme each week. Librarians plan a mixture of activities to engage students and make the experience fun. There are read-aloud sessions, word games, writing activities and guided discussions that help the students develop better comprehension skills and encourage them to use their imagination.

For many of the librarians attending the workshop, Adventures in Reading is their first opportunity to learn how to plan and run reading activities out of their libraries.

Librarian Gloria Amalia Muños Garcia has been working at the Aldca San Miguel Morazan municipal library in El Tejar for four years and is getting ready to run her third Adventures in Reading program. When she started, she says, her library had very few resources and few of the characteristics of a successful library.

“The library only had some tables, chairs and a few books. There was no system of classification, no reading programs. It was mostly used as a place for students to do their homework.”

But after attending some Child Aid workshops and receiving support from the librarians at the El Tejar Community Library, Muños Garcia began to transform the mission of her small library.

“I learned how to classify and organize books, I invited teachers from the local school to bring their students to the library for story hour, and I started a backpack lending program to get some of the new books to the schools.”

Muños Garcia says the Child Aid workshops continue to be a useful resource for her, especially with curriculum planning.

Child Aid's Director of Curriculum, Erin Conway, shows a group of librarians how to set up and play a simple word game.

Child Aid’s Director of Curriculum, Erin Conway, shows a group of librarians how to set up and play a simple word game.

“I have plans prepared from past years,” she says, “but today I’m getting some new ideas – what books to select, how much time to spend on activities, how to promote the program in the community. This workshop is always very productive because it includes not only theory but also lots of activities and practice.”

This year’s group of workshop participants was the largest ever and included a mix of returning librarians along with many first-timers.

“The mix of experiences is important to the success of the workshops,” says Carlos Pos. “The new librarians often come in with many doubts and don’t know what to do or how to do it. But when they hear about the positive experiences of other librarians, it gives them confidence and motivates them to do their best.”

Next, the librarians will return to their libraries to begin planning and promoting the Adventures in Reading program in their communities. They will gather again in mid-October for a second workshop focusing on writing activities. The Child Aid staff will also continue to provide support for the librarians as they get ready to launch their programs, usually at the beginning of November.

“Adventures in Reading is an important program for us,” says Child Aid Country Director John van Keppel, “because it not only helps kids continue to become good readers but it also helps bring the community into the library and understand the importance of the library as a community resource. By running the program, librarians get the experience of being active reading promoters, which helps them in their work throughout the year.”

Categories: News
10/1/2013 7:26 AM

Local Police Called In (To Help Children Learn to Read!)

Hundreds of children participated in small groups during Adventures in Reading in Tzumpango’s community library.

When librarian Ivonne Barrientos woke up one morning last week, she was looking forward to a big day. But she didn’t realize just how big it would be. For the past month, Ivonne had been busy coordinating and promoting her library’s new school break program, Adventures in Reading, in the Kaqchikel-speaking village of Tzumpango, Guatemala.

For children from rural highland communities like Tzumpango, there aren’t many opportunities to keep busy during the school vacation months. Ivonne took the initiative, thanks to her Child Aid-led training, and arranged for her library to host Adventures in Reading for some 100 children.

Families stood by as children enter the library to participate in Adventures in Reading.

Ivonne thought that the first day would go smoothly and as planned – but she was in for a big surprise. While she was setting-up, she heard voices outside the library. She opened the door, and was speechless. Outside waiting was a crowd of not 100 kids, but over 600! Most children were from Tzumpango, but many were from nearby villages. They had heard about a free school break reading program for children and the news spread like wildfire.

Ivonne wanted to make sure all the children could actively participate, so she called Child Aid’s library coordinator, Carlos Pos Ben, who was already en route, and let him know what was happening. Carlos, equally surprised by the number of children, suggested some activities that utilized small groups to help focus and engage their participation.

Ivonne liked the idea, but she knew she couldn’t physically manage the number of children by herself. She then put in a call in to the mayor of Tzumpango with the news and asked him for ideas. To Ivonne’s surprise, he responded by sending local traffic police to help her organize the program’s activities!

Police offered literacy support during Adventures in Reading group activities.

Child Aid staff did a brief pre-meeting and training with Ivonne and the police. Despite initial fears that the police might scare or intimidate the children, the police presence actually helped build bridges of trust between the children, their families and the community.

Tzumpango’s story is yet another example of how Child Aid programs like Adventures in Reading continue to grow in depth and scope. It was a challenge to work with so many children, but with focused activities and enough manpower, the program succeeded in having children further their reading skills.

Thanks to Ivonne, Child Aid staff and local authorities in Tzumpango, an entire community was able to come together for literacy.

Categories: News
12/18/2012 10:46 AM
Stories From Guatemala

Summer Literacy Program Inspires Young Student

Juan loves participating in the summer reading program

After attending Child Aid’s summer reading program, Juan aspires to become a doctor.

Juan Byron Guarchaj (age 10) lives in the rural town of Pasaq, Guatemala. He goes to school in the morning and spends his afternoons harvesting coffee or bananas to earn money for his family. He chops firewood in the mountains and carries it into town in giant bundles on his back. Around dusk, he spends an hour or two in the library that Child Aid helped create last year.

In November of 2010, during Guatemala’s three month school break, Juan participated in Pasaq’s second Adventures in Reading program, which helped more than 25 local children work on their reading skills while school was out. “I want to be a doctor,” said Juan, “and I want to do Adventures in Reading again this year.” He’s not alone: Parents in 20 towns and villages enrolled a total of 1,605 children in Adventures in Reading last year. This is double the number of children who participated in the program the year before. We are thrilled with the success of this program and glad parents are taking an active role in our work.

Categories: Stories From Guatemala
03/22/2011 4:19 PM | 0 Comments
Stories From Guatemala

Adventures in Reading

Children listen to a story during Adventures in Reading.

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.

Categories: Stories From Guatemala
07/23/2009 9:19 PM | 0 Comments