Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Vetted

 

The library that was just opened up in our new location in the ChukMuk School has come leaps and bounds in the last month thanks to a lot of work from the Library Coordinator, Johanny, and Librarian, Lidia, along with the Program Manager, Montse. The shelves are slowly but steadily being filled with more stories and textbooks, the walls are decorated with bright colors to warm up the cinderblock classroom, and the literacy activities are in full swing. One of the teachers, Gaspar Sapalú, mentioned “The kids love to go to the library activities, their only complaint is they wish they could go everyday!”

 

Even when the kids don’t have a scheduled library time that day, the books come to their classroom with “traveling suitcases” that contain materials for teachers to keep up their own literacy activities. The kids are also taking full advantage of our free hour each day where they often practice reading aloud in Spanish. Most of their parents speak only the local Tzu’tujil language, so school is often the only time for practicing their Spanish that will no doubt open opportunities for them in the future.

 

This month we also organized a school-wide event that got everyone reading! To celebrate the Internacional Día Del Libro, we had each teacher read a story to their class, and the students got to design their own bookmarks. At the end of the week, seven winners were chosen and given prizes based on their understanding and creative depiction of the story. Encouraging kids to use their imagination to make a story come to life not only helps stimulate their minds, but also fosters a love of reading!

Johanny and LIdia
Johanny and LIdia

We’re settling in to our new location in the Chukmuk school, and the children are so excited! Every day they ask our librarian, Lidia, “When are the library activities going to start?” We assure them that activities will be starting very soon, but in the meantime, we’ve been moving, cleaning, and organizing.

Throughout February we were…

  • Moving the library furniture to the new location
  • Packing, unpacking, and organizing six hundred new books donated and purchased with donations over the past year
  • Cleaning!

Library Coordinator Johanny and Librarian Lidia hold the first three books cataloged for the library.

  • Cataloging the library’s stock with the simplified Dewey
    decimal system and a junior color code
  • Expanding our “library start-up” guide so that other teachers or schools who are interested in starting a library can model our work
  • Registering and updating our existing inventory of 290 books
  • Painting bookshelves in cheery colors to make the library more inviting to children and also to protect the books from humidity during the rainy season
  • Holding our first training for teachers and library support group members
  • Starting our ongoing training for teachers and the library support group.

We're off to a great start, but we could still use about five times more books!

We’re pleased to have come so far, but also know how much more we have to do.  For example, we need to grow our library stock. International guidelines recommend a minimum of 3,000 items in library stock, including books in Spanish, educational materials, etc.) to satisfy the needs of 250 students. And we still need to furnish three separate areas of the library: the investigation area, the story area, and the creativity area. In the meantime, we’re thrilled to be in our new space, and looking forward to watching our library—and the literacy and imaginations of the children—grow and grow.

student helping out
student helping out

Pueblo a Pueblo welcomes Juana Lidia to our small Library Project team! Juana Lidia will be the school librarian for the Chukmuk School. She’ll be sharing both enthusiasm and her experience working in two local libraries with the children of Chukmuk, ensuring our library is not only filled with books, but also with boundless opportunities for learning.

The library’s new location is nearly finished. All it needs is a coat of paint and we’ll be ready to start cataloging and organizing books on the shelves. With generous donor support, we’ve been able to offer literacy activities and even summer camp programs in provisional locations while we waited for the new school and library location to be finalized. But now we’re looking forward to the smiles on the children’s faces as they walk through the door and see their new library full of books for the very first time!

Links:

 

It’s nearly summer (dry season) in Guatemala, so school vacation is right around the corner. This year Pueblo a Pueblo is offering a library camp throughout November where children can go for education, fun, and a nutritious meal while their parents work.

     Our six-week library camp will feature literacy activities based on a new theme each week, such as “The World, My Community, and I" and “Types of Animals.” Some activities will focus on imagination and fiction books and other activities will involve investigation and non-fiction books. Throughout, kids will read, listen to stories, and enjoy arts and crafts.

Girl Reading
Girl Reading

The Chukmuk children attendance to literacy activities at the Library is growing. Their interest has been awaken with the activities done in June.

In July our theme was ‘Nature’ and through activities linked to four children’s books we learned about how to best care for our mother earth.
The first book was ‘El Arbol generoso’ (The generous tree) and on that library session each child thanked the flowers, the trees and our beautiful lake for everything they give us.

The second book was ‘Siembra una semilla’ (Plant a seed) and guess what! each child made their own seed pot with recycled paper and planted a sunflower seed!
After watering the seeds and give them love for a whole week…. they came out!

With the third book (El loro tico tango) we experimented and learned how to write rhymes. It was the first try ever for most of the children so it was difficult!

And after reading 'El bosque tropical' (The tropical forest) we had to join letters and create animal names without orthographical mistakes...

Even though we are still on a temporary space we continue working to bring books to the life of children in Chukmuk and to awaken their interest for reading, widening their imagination and knowledge.

Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower Seeds
sunflower seeds 2
sunflower seeds 2
 

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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.puebloapueblo.org
Project Leader:
Andrew Wilson
Executive Director
Neenah, WI United States

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