Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Ms. Clara reads aloud to students
Ms. Clara reads aloud to students

School has been out for almost three weeks here in Guatemala, where students attend class from January through late October. However, the library at Patzilin Abaj Primary School is full of young learners spending part of their winter vacation reinforcing their literacy gains.

Beginning readers need constant engagement with reading, writing, and storytelling activities in order to maintain their literacy levels over time. That’s why our Pathways to Literacy team leads two weeks of reading camp at each of our partner schools each winter: to give kids a chance to start the new school year stronger.

On Tuesday morning, Pathways to Literacy Project Coordinator Lidia Quiejú started off her day by reading a children’s book to fifteen wiggly students. The story was called Los cincuenta pasteles (“The Fifty Cakes”) and centered on a would-be entrepreneur named Enrique who foolishly agrees to bake fifty cakes for a very picky king—without any previous baking experience!

When she had finished her read-aloud, Lidia introduced the first group’s main activity: cake collages. “It’s important to give students an opportunity to be creative so that they can engage with the story in a variety of different ways,” Lidia explains. The students gathered leaves, seeds, and flower petals from the schoolyard and used them to decorate their “cakes”. The room quickly filled with the sound of hushed giggles as the students got right to work.

The second session of the day was led by Patzilin Abaj librarian Ms. Clara. “One of the goals of this project is professional development for school faculty—including its brand-new librarian,” explains Lidia. “So I lead the first session as a model, and then Clara leads the second to get comfortable with those same teaching techniques herself.”

Ms. Clara read the same book to the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders gathered for session two, but she used a more rigorous question-and-answer pattern to test the students’ comprehension. “What did Enrique want at the beginning of the story?” she asked. “What did you think would happen? Did the ending surprise you?”

Both groups of students will return for another week of reading camp, and they'll be back again in January for more learning. This program helps us fulfill our goal of building confidence in young readers and new educators—even while school is not in session!

Thank you for believing in the power of reading, writing, and storytelling to change lives. Your support fuels students' success.

Group 1 students gather collage materials
Group 1 students gather collage materials
A student shows off her collage
A student shows off her collage
Students participate in a "treasure hunt" activity
Students participate in a "treasure hunt" activity
Playing a "hot potato" reading comprehension game
Playing a "hot potato" reading comprehension game

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Tzanchaj Primary School
Tzanchaj Primary School

On a small, rural campus on the outskirts of Santiago Atitlán, Tzanchaj Primary School serves 252 students from preschool to sixth grade. A tight-knit group of teachers, administrators, and parents are enthusiastic about making the school a better place to learn, play, and grow—and they need your help to do it!

With your help, Pueblo a Pueblo will help them build a new school library at Tzanchaj, opening up doors to new ways of teaching and learning. “The library is a dynamic learning space,” says Pathways to Literacy Project Consultant Rebeca Sosof. “It's different from a regular classroom because it gives kids more freedom to learn and play at the same time.” Rebeca wants every student at Tzanchaj to pick up a book during recess, build a robot out of Legos, or play math games on an electronic tablet. Students who have the opportunity to engage with a variety of educational activities master vital skills like reading and writing more quickly and successfully, and the library will provide space for teachers to introduce and reinforce these skills in creative ways.

Your gift to this project will provide books, educational games, and teaching materials to fill the shelves of the brand-new library. With your support, our staff will also train a brand-new librarian to catalogue the donated materials and instruct school faculty in the use of library resources—in all subject areas, even science and math! Your donation will build a space where young people will walk a pathway to literacy—perhaps the greatest gift an educator can offer.

“My teachers and I are willing to work hard to build a better school for our students," says Principal María Magdalena Damián Tziná. "We've done it before, we're doing it now, and we'll do it again." Help us equip Principal Magdalena and her team with the tools they need to build and sustain a school library in Tzanchaj. You can give young students the gift of literacy today!

Rebeca and Principal Magdalena
Rebeca and Principal Magdalena
The future site of the new Tzanchaj school library
The future site of the new Tzanchaj school library

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Students portray the seven dwarves
Students portray the seven dwarves

Rebeca was thrilled to receive an invitation to an International Book Day celebration at Patzilin Abaj Primary School earlier this month. An educator herself, she enjoys any opportunity to celebrate learning. But she was especially excited to see the students and teachers at Patzilin Abaj bring their library to life.

Two years ago, Rebeca and the rest of her Pathways to Literacy team started their work at Patzilin Abaj. They have worked with school administrators to build a library from the ground up. They have filled it with books and delivered electronic tablets loaded with educational games and literacy-building tools. They have selected and trained a librarian and led professional development workshops for teachers, introducing them to the many ways they can use the library in their classes. There's still a year left before the school begins to manage the project independently, but the faculty of Patzilin Abaj have already done a lot to integrate the library into the lives of their students.

The school’s International Book Day celebration certainly put that hard work on display. Students, teachers, and administrators worked together to perform dramatizations of two books that can be found in the school library.

The first performance was a dramatic rendition of a classic fairy tale: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”. Students dressed as trees, flowers, and woodland creatures filled the school’s large outdoor multipurpose space, transforming it into the forest where Snow White escapes her evil stepmother to live with the seven dwarves. School librarian Clara Eugenia played the role of the evil queen quite convincingly!

The second play was based on the children’s book Un Elefante Buscando Amigos (“An Elephant Looks for Friends”). In the story, an elephant struggles to make friends with the other animals in the jungle, until he finds friendship in the unlikeliest of places. While the other animals complain about how big and slow he is, the ant accepts the elephant for who he is despite their differences.

The other students watched the performances attentively. One of the teachers narrated aloud into a microphone, reading his role straight from the pages of each book! A few parents had gathered to watch too, smiling and laughing at the performers’ antics. At the end of the performances, Principal Caín addressed the whole audience. “Thank you for coming to today’s event, and congratulations to all of our performers,” he said. “And most importantly: you can find both of these books in our school library, so if you liked what you saw, go and check them out today!”

By bringing these books to life through performance, the teachers of Patzilin Abaj paved a pathway to literacy for their students. The next year of their collaboration with Pueblo a Pueblo will no doubt inspire an even deeper love of reading, writing and storytelling among students at Patzilin Abaj!

Narrating the stories
Narrating the stories
Librarian Clara Eugenia plays the evil stepmother
Librarian Clara Eugenia plays the evil stepmother
Students watch the plays
Students watch the plays
Parents had plenty of fun too!
Parents had plenty of fun too!
Rebeca and Principal Cain at the event
Rebeca and Principal Cain at the event

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Rebeca with Principal Magdalena
Rebeca with Principal Magdalena

Our team is ready to start a brand new school library this year...and we need your help!

When Pathways to Literacy Project Consultant Rebeca Sosof started her search for a new partner school, she didn’t look far from Santiago Atitlán. “I want to make sure we are doing what we can to support public schools close to home,” she says. When she contacted our institutional partners at the Guatemalan Ministry of Education for recommendations, they suggested she reach out to the principal of Tzanchaj No. 2 Primary School.

Rebeca was eager to partner with Tzanchaj; Pueblo a Pueblo already has a strong working relationship with the school. Pueblo a Pueblo has collaborated with the school to establish an organic school garden, lead healthy cooking classes, carry out sanitation improvements, and support local students with scholarships.“This is an opportunity to provide students with integrated support,” Rebeca explains. “The new library will complement the effects of the other projects to give Tzanchaj students access to a high-quality education.” The project would benefit all 252 students—preschoolers to sixth graders—who attend Tzanchaj No. 2.

When Rebeca contacted the school, Principal María Magdalena Damián Tziná responded that she would be thrilled to collaborate on creating a library—the first library ever at Tzanchaj No. 2! Magdalena invited Rebeca to the school for a visit and showed her the office that they will transform into a library with Pueblo a Pueblo’s help. 

"My teachers and I are willing to work hard to build a better school for our students—even on our own time, even on a volunteer basis," she told Rebeca. "We've done it before, we're doing it now, and we'll do it again. Our biggest problem is that as much as we ask, we don't receive the funding we need from the government."

During Phase 1 of the project, Pueblo a Pueblo will provide the school with the resources it needs to build a brand-new library. Our Pathways to Literacy team will deliver a set of reading materials, carefully picked to be appropriate for the range of ages and reading levels among Tzanchaj students. From there, our team will help the school train a librarian and work with teachers to integrate the new library resources into their teaching.

But first, we need your support. “Our partnership with the school is all in place,” says Rebeca. “Now we just need funding to get started.” Your donation of $50 puts ten books on the shelf at this brand-new library. Help Pueblo a Pueblo build Pathways to Literacy at Tzanchaj No. 2 Primary School!

Tzanchaj No. 2 Primary School
Tzanchaj No. 2 Primary School
Rebeca waits to meet with Magdalena
Rebeca waits to meet with Magdalena
This office will be transformed into a library!
This office will be transformed into a library!

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Lidia leads a game
Lidia leads a game

Our Pathways to Literacy team works hard alongside primary school teachers to provide young students with access to school libraries full of good books to read. They also collaborate with teachers to lead activities that help students learn to read and write. But what happens when the school year ends? In Guatemala, school lets out in early October and classes don’t start again until January. That’s more than a two month break from the regular reading practice kids need to keep working toward literacy! Without constant reinforcement of literacy skills, young students tend to lose ground in their learning.

That’s why our team leads vacation literacy programs at each of our active partner schools every winter. This year, Pueblo a Pueblo’s Pathways to Literacy team is leading sessions in Patzilin Abaj and Nueva Providencia. By the end of the last session, the project will have provided two weeks of literacy-oriented activities to fifty children across the two communities.

The first session of this year’s vacation literacy programming began on October 29th. Lidia, Pathways to Literacy Project Manager, arrived at Nueva Providencia Primary School early in the morning and unlocked the door to the library for the first time in weeks. In the mornings, she worked with a group of younger children from first through third grades, and in the afternoon with a group of older kids from fourth through sixth grades. Each day, Lidia focused on a different theme, like stories, games, art, or theatre. “They are literacy classes,” explains Rebeca, Pathways to Literacy Project Consultant, “but they are more fun than the regular classes the students receive during the school year. The vacation sessions are more engaging, more creative, more dynamic for students—we want to give them a chance to unwind a little bit after the long school year.”

This year was particularly exciting one because of a generous gift from a group of visiting volunteers. The group was in Guatemala for a week of volunteering with Pueblo a Pueblo, and they brought a donation of thirty electronic tablets, already loaded with Spanish-language children’s books and carefully-selected educational applications. At Nueva Providencia, Lidia passed out a tablet to each of the students and soon they were all reading the same story about a mischievous monkey, swiping through page by page in unison. Afterwards, Lidia quizzed the students. “What kind of animal was the main character in this book?” she asked. “What was the moral of this story?”

Pueblo a Pueblo’s vacation camp is the only activity of its kind available to young students in Nueva Providencia and Patzilin Abaj. This summer, fifty kids will spend two weeks reading, writing, playing, and laughing—and now they are even more excited to return to school in January to have more fun in the library! Thank you for helping our team inspire a love of reading, writing, and storytelling among young learners.

Lidia reads a story aloud using a tablet
Lidia reads a story aloud using a tablet
Students follow along on their tablets
Students follow along on their tablets

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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Pueblo_a_Pueblo
Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Andrew Wilson
Project Leader:
Andrew Wilson
Executive Director
Neenah, WI United States

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