“Getting to have lots of books in our classroom and being able to choose what to read is a nice experience,” says Allet, a first-grader at Los Planes community school.
Allet and her classmates have a reason to be excited: Los Planes has piloted our new Traveling Library / Biblioteca viajera, which houses more than 700 books for young readers.
Having more than a few books to choose from is a new experience for many students like Allet: teachers in Guatemala receive only the equivalent of $30 USD per year to spend on classroom materials, and most of the students don’t have any books at home. But now, with the addition of the Traveling Library and the books that teachers in our intensive literacy training course receive to put their training into practice, students in our community schools are able to pick out the stories that interest them and read independently more than they ever have before. “I read La vaca y la espinaca several times and I learned the sound of consonants thanks to the cow’s friends,” Allet told us. “I hope that the books come back to my school so that I can read them again and explore more stories.” The Biblioteca viajera will travel between schools on a rotating basis, so that all students have access.
Ensuring that students get excited about reading, and graduate literate from elementary school, are paramount after two years of school closures that turned the clocks back on learning for hundreds of thousands of elementary school students. Teachers are seeing the gap, and looking for ways to close it: more than 40 teachers in our partner schools elected to enroll in our intensive certification course for literacy techniques this year. Armed with new techniques to get their students reading, additional materials, and the Traveling Library, they’re hoping they can tip the scales in their students’ favor.
There’s one partner in our literacy endeavors that we want to highlight: Lake Atitlán Libraries (LAL)! LAL has been providing book donations and monetary support to the regional library in Panajachel, Guatemala since the late 1990s. When they started supporting us, we were training kindergarten and first grade teachers, and since then we’ve exponentially grown our Education program to 11 community schools. We are so grateful for their support. We could not do the important work of building brighter futures for students in rural Guatemala without their help.
If you’d like to learn more about Lake Atitlán Libraries, visit their website!
When elementary school teacher Marco decided to take part in Mil Milagros’ intensive teacher certification course for literacy techniques, he knew something had to change in his classroom: “After working and teaching for so long, you forget important techniques,” he said. “Here, we’re getting together to broaden our own understanding–and that will benefit our students, too.”