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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
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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Lidia leads an activity in the library
Lidia leads an activity in the library

It’s only been four months since the library at Patzilin Ab'aj Primary School got a makeover through Pueblo a Pueblo’s Pathways to Literacy project. In April, Lidia Quiejú, Pathways to Literacy project manager, went to work outfitting the library with new books and training the school’s librarian to catalogue the new collection. She also introduced students to RACHEL, an electronic library program for reading, researching, and exploring educational resources online.

In May, Lidia started leading activities in the library (including the World Book Day storytelling celebration you may have read about in our last project report). First, she led short lessons to model different ways that teachers can use the library and its resources during their classes. Then, the teachers took over and started leading their own activities—at this point, just about every class at the school, from history to math, has taken a trip to the library!

Lidia believes that you can tell a successful library by its students. And she's encouraged to see that the students at Patzilin Ab'aj love their library! Each day at the beginning of students’ recess period, the school librarian, Clara Eugenia, is greeted by kids asking, “What day is it? What are we doing today?” Each day of the week has a certain theme. Mondays and Thursdays are storytelling days, when Clara Eugenia reads a book aloud. Tuesdays and Fridays are game days, when she teaches students to play a new game, like dominoes, or pulls out a big jigsaw puzzle for kids to work on together. And Wednesdays are art days, when she leads students in an art project.

The older students at the school love taking books home with them—and they’ve gotten their younger siblings hooked too! Some of the youngest students at Patzilin Ab'aj come to the library, and even though many of them are too young to read, they pull books off the shelf, turn the pages, and make up their own stories about the characters in the illustrations. There are often a couple of moms in the library too—they’ve come to sign out books for their younger children, who haven’t learned to write their names yet. It’s safe to say that the Patzilin Ab'aj library is a lively place!

The goal of this project is literacy—it’s in Lidia’s job title, after all—but it is just as important to her that the students at Patzilin Ab'aj develop a love for reading, writing, and storytelling. Kids who spend time in the library playing games and making art, who make up stories even before they’re old enough to read them, are kids who are likely to reach literacy and reap its lifelong benefits.

Students work on a group activity during recess
Students work on a group activity during recess
Older students participate in a writing activity
Older students participate in a writing activity
Students of all ages come to the library to read!
Students of all ages come to the library to read!

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The students at Patzilin Abaj Primary School became young authors and worked with their classmates to create an original story. They presented their stories to their schoolmates, who then voted for their favorite in their first annual storytelling celebration.

Let’s take a look at what they came up with!  
The first graders kicked off the competition with their story “The Frog and the Bird.”  

This story is about a young frog who loves to read. 
He reads all day long, and even dreams about it at night!  The frog learns that there is a reading competition in the sky to determine the best reader. He’s confident he can win, there’s just one problem. He can’t fly. The frog is determined to compete, so he asks a bird, who is also a mail carrier, for a ride. The bird refuses, saying he is busy at work. The frog sneaks himself into a scroll and disguises himself as mail. He eventually arrives at the competition and WINS! 

The fourth graders wrote a tale of vengeance and friendship.

Their story, titled “The Pigeon and the Ants” is about a pigeon who spends its time bullying the ants that work underneath the tree that holds her nest. The pigeon constantly destroys the ant’s little houses. One day, the ants organize and climb the tree to ruin the pigeon’s nest. When the pigeon returns, they talk it out, and the pigeon agrees to treat the ants with respect. The story ends with them becoming best friends.

The sixth graders wrote“Father Rabbit.”  

This is a story of the importance of reading and protecting their rights. “Father Rabbit” is set on a quaint farm. Mother Rabbit, Father Rabbit, Brother Rabbit and Sister Rabbit live on and tend to the farm. Their farm is in danger when a more powerful rabbit decides he is the owner of the land and presents a document, which he claimed gave him ownership of the family’s farm. However, Father Rabbit knows how to read, realizes that it is a fake document, and saves the farm.

The storytelling celebration was filled with wide smiles and giggles. We’re thrilled to see the students at Patzilin Abaj produce such great work, and we're determined to work alongside the community to foster their creativity through the Pathway to Literacy Project. Thank you for your Global Giving Support! 

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Our Pathway to Literacy (PTL) Project team has been very busy the last few months. We’ve partnered with another school to create a Pueblo a Pueblo certified lending library. Patzilin Abaj Primary School will be the third active school to implement our PTL Project.

The first step of the project is to improve the library space. The school has a designated space, which makes our process a lot easier. But the space needs a lot of work before it can be called a functional and inviting lending library.

Lidia, our Pathways to Literacy Project Coordinator, went to the school and measured the space, photographed the current furniture, took inventory of what kind of books they had and tried to figure out if the library currently had a method for organizing their materials. The biggest obstacle this library has is accessibility to materials. Half of the reading materials are randomly stacked in china cabinets that are too high for the younger children to reach. The rest of the books are in large plastic storage containers, with no labels and mixed in with empty boxes of games and game pieces.

We hope to work with Patzilin Abaj to create a space that is organized, accessible and inviting, a space that encourages kids to spend time in the library and borrow books. Our vision for this library is to have appropriate and safe furniture, an investigation corner, a quiet reading section, a designated area for games and a librarian who can teach the children how to find books, using a color coding method that is easy for the youngest readers.

We’re excited to spread the joy of reading, creativity and imagination to more students. More importantly, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to tackle illiteracy in the Solola Department, where illiteracy among women between 15 and 49 years is at 20% (it’s 8% for their male counterparts). With your help, we can change these statistics. We can’t thank you enough for your generosity. Your Global Giving Support makes it possible for us to empower students with the tools to develop and cherish good reading habits. Thank You!

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For the students at Nueva Providencia Primary School, the library is easily their favorite area. We introduced our Pathway to Literacy (PTL) Project at this school in August 2016. In a little over a year, our PTL Project Team and teachers have worked to revamp the library. Our hard works has paid off, and the small space is almost unrecognizeable. What used to be a room with chairs and books stacked on top of eachother,collecting dust from not being used, is now a buzzing hotspot with organized display shelves, colorful tables, mats to sit on the floor, and student artwork decorating the walls.

The young readers take so much pride in their library, we decided to fix the floors. The students are on winter break right now, helping their families pick coffee for the next two months. We’re taking advantage of the temporarily vacant library to tile the cement floors and give the small space a makeover.

We’re excited to see the looks on their faces in January when they return to a new and improved library! We hope this motivates them to spend even more time reading and exploring. Thank you for your GlobalGiving support and sharing our vision in promoting literacy in rural Guatemala from the ground up! 

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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @Pueblo_a_Pueblo
Project Leader:
Andrew Wilson
Executive Director
Neenah, WI United States
$37,338 raised of $50,000 goal
 
853 donations
$12,662 to go
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