The Frances and Henry Riecken Foundation, Inc.

We offer Central Americans hope and the opportunity to overcome poverty by promoting democracy and prosperity through community libraries that spark a spirit of discovery and foster citizen participation.
Oct 16, 2014

More education in early childhood help communities

Readers Families in Community Library "Windows ope
Readers Families in Community Library "Windows ope

According to the First Steps blog1, from Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents (father and mother) read aloud to their children from birth.  According to this blog, “reading fairytales not only helps children to improve their vocabulary, but to recognize figures through the illustrations, to develop their comprehension skills, and to stimulate their interest in stories books.  All this will affect their future lives, improving their analytical skills and theirs school performance”.

However, the educational and cultural reality of Latin America is characterized by a large number of people who declare that they cannot read or write; the most affected are in the northern triangle of Central America (Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras). Through various educational programs, Honduras and Guatemala have seen their illiteracy rates drop, but there are still many challenges to overcome. Riecken’s programs have been successfully addressing these challenges by involving civil society in the school and cultural education process, and promoting the spirit of discovery thought the joy of reading.

The Individuals, who possess the spirit of discovery, have the ability to try new things, start new projects and participate in the social life of their communities. Through reading, people can find solutions to problems and answers to their questions. Reading also encourages new ideas and creativity.  Therefore,  reading leads to discovery and the discovery leads to the prosperity.  The reading program of Riecken Community libraries creates and strengthens the habit and joy of reading in the rural communities where the libraries exist.  This program is designed to promote reading in children and adults by making reading fun and accessible. Librarians, volunteers, and parents are trained on how to read aloud and story time techniques. This training and the practice of reading aloud helps children develop a positive relationship with reading from an early age.  For teenagers and adults, Book Clubs have been formed to promote reading as a social activity and a source of enjoyment and camaraderie.

Riecken’s libraries are also seen as “Bebetecas” (Libraries for babies)

The Riecken Foundation believes that reading to children from an early age (0-5 years), stimulates the mind, develops language, and builds a base to ensure the success of reading in the future. The parents are childrens’ first teachers; so they need to be provided with tools and activities they can do with their families to promote reading at an early age and develop a reading habit that will continue throughout life.  Riecken’s programs are aimed develop language skills, vocabulary, pre-reading, as well as creating positive experiences with books. Parents also learn techniques and that they practice with their children.  Essentially, the community libraries promote six pre-reading skills that mother, father and baby can develop from birth:

  • Motivation to Books: sparking the interest in children to enjoy books, with the purpose of promoting an approach to them.
  • Vocabulary: in the first week of life, the baby can vocalize at the same time that mother does.
  • Becoming familiar with the writing: engage the children with reading, use exercises that show drawings, shapes, people, and animals, not only with figures but with written words.
  • Knowledge of sounds: help children acquire the ability to hear and play with sounds.
  • Narrative skills: librarians can relate stories and tales to children and help develop the skills in reading readiness.
  • Letter knowledge: the children begin to learn their first letters.

The Riecken Community Libraries successfully promote literacy and the reading and writing practices in rural communities. It is the ideal complement to the effort made by the formal education sector.  This integrated approach helps promote the practices of reading and writing in the life of the community. Building a literate ambience is an essential step before creating literate people. It’s also a way to help address the lack of reading skills and the environments that don’t promote literacy, which can sometimes be found in formal school settings. 2


[1] http://blogs.iadb.org/desarrollo-infantil/2014/09/05/alfabetizacion/

 [2] Openjuru, George. Adult literacy and its link to development In: DVV Internationalhttp://www.iiz-dvv.de/index.php?article_id=336&clang=3 (consultation: September 9, 2014)

New reader at the Riecken Community Library
New reader at the Riecken Community Library
The librarian training is essential to promote pro
The librarian training is essential to promote pro

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Oct 16, 2014

Librarian Training to Improve a Girls Writers in Guatemala

A reading Little girl
A reading Little girl

The Riecken Foundation believes that the single most effective way to promote the spirit of discovery is through the promotion and pleasure for reading and writing. Individuals who possess the spirit of discovery have the capacity of trying new things, starting new projects and participating in the social life of their communities. Reading leads to discovery and discovery leads to prosperity. Therefore, the daily effort of a community librarian cannot be understood without reading for pleasure. Through the librarian training program, the Foundation trains in techniques and methodologies to promote reading in children and adults through programming that makes reading fun and accessible.

One of the trainings took place in Guatemala. Within the framework of the National Meeting of Riecken Community Libraries, a workshop called “The Art of Writing” was an opportunity for librarians within the network to strengthen their skills in promoting reading for pleasure and creative writing. More than 30 representatives from Riecken’s libraries in Guatemala participated and learned about the importance of writing and the various strategies for writing a story. In addition, participants learned the basic tools of the trade for writing: space, time, narrator, genre, action, and the construction of scenes.

It is also worth mentioning that at this National Meeting a formal step was taken toward organizing the association of the Network of Riecken Community Libraries as an organization that represents, promotes, enhances, advocates, and defends the rights and common interests of the community libraries, as well as to strengthen the associative and individual sustainability of community libraries in Guatemala.
Girls in the library of Parramos (Guatemala)
Girls in the library of Parramos (Guatemala)
A new reader in the library (Zacualpa, Guatemala)
A new reader in the library (Zacualpa, Guatemala)

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Jul 21, 2014

Nutrition Information Programs Help Build Healthy

A work session of childhood development reading
A work session of childhood development reading

Although and early childhood development reading program began in the libraries in 2007, in 2013 a child nutrition component was launched and offered as a preschool educational option to parents. The program was piloted in 15 community libraries:

Guatemala (Xolsacmaljá, Cabricán, Huitán, San Juan Chamelco, and La Libertad), and in Honduras (San Lucas, San Luis, El Porvenir, San Jerónimo, Santa Cruz de Yojoa, Copán Ruinas, Dulce Nombre, El Níspero, San Juan Planes, and Yorito).

This early childhood development program that links reading and nutrition is enabling communities to ward off health problems and malnutrition, strengthen the mother-child emotional bond, and guide, train and educate parents or children´s caretakers to ensure children's continuous and ongoing development.

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