Reading Village has been partnering with the community of Concepcion now for almost 7 years. This means that children who were read to by our youth reading promoters back in 2009 are now old enough to be reading promoters themselves! We are excited about this new phase of our development where our youth leaders will begin the program with a strong love of reading and be better readers, already familiar with what reading activities look like.
Julio was one of the original 6 youth leaders in our program in Concepcion in 2009. His younger brother Byron is now participating in the selection process to enter the program in 2016. When asked why he wanted to join the program, Byron said, “My older brother Julio brought books home to read to me, and I would ask him to read to me all the time. The reading promoters in my classrooms made reading fun. I want to make reading fun for the younger children and help them have better vocabularies.” Byron has grasped the fundamental core of our work. A love of reading leads to reading more - reading more leads to reading better - reading better leads to liking it more and reading more. And up goes the virtuous cycle of transforming lives through literacy.
We are in the process of selecting 15 more youth leaders to add to our program in 2016, for a total of 65. Each one of those 68 teens will read to 50 children; that’s 3,250 children getting the best preparation they can for a better life - regular read aloud sessions. Thank you for making this possible.
I'm excited to report that last month a group of eleven intrepid individuals traveled down to Guatemala on our annual Learning Journey. The trip went off without a hitch and this small group of passionate travelers now understands, better than ever before, the impact of our work in these rural communities.
Traveling from across the United States and as far away as Japan, these individuals all have their own story and each of them took a unique interest in our work. They are teachers and literacy specialists, accountants, researchers, students, and parents. Together they spent seven days traveling alongside our board members and staff to witness the impact of our work in Guatemala. They read books, took boat rides, made tortillas, and enjoyed winding walks high in the hill communities where we work.
Our blog is now filled with stories from their travels. Head over and take a look and consider joining our 2016 Learning Journey yourself - we'd love to have you!
Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Day 7
Thanks for following along on this journey! Our work wouldn't be possible without your support and we'd love for you to see it first hand someday. You're always invited!
Linda Smith, Executive Director of Reading Village
In a circle of our youth leaders, one in particular stands out. He’s got deep dark eyes, a clean pressed shirt, and a contagious smile. He’s also ten years and two feet shorter than most of the others. Juanito is the younger brother of two of our program participants but for the past two years he’s all but joined the group. He is fourth in a line of brothers with progressively more opportunity as they embrace their educations: a mechanic, a university student, and a soon to be graduate. And then there is Juanito. The young boy has benefited immensely from the education of his older brothers. They brought home books to read to him, they took him to the neighborhood library that they themselves opened, and they showed him, by way of example, the doors that would be opened if he could do what 90% of his peers would not – finish high school. Just eight years old, Juanito is still several years away from achieving that dream but he’s not wasting any time. Today, he walks confidently into youth leadership meetings and takes a chair in the circle. The teens offer him a turn answering questions and participating in conversation. He brings his friends to the library, reads to them, and shows them how to pick out books. While he dreams of being a reading promoter like his older brothers, we are thrilled to witness that he already is. Juanito is a perfect example of the ways in which literacy and education can unlock the potential of children living in poverty. “I’ve learned from Juanito the true happiness that literacy and leadership can bring,” said one of our youth leaders. “I’m so glad he’s with us.”Thank you for making this happiness happen. Thank you for transforming lives through literacy.Sincerely,Linda SmithFounder & Executive Director, Reading Village