Hello, this is Jennifer, again. Like I mentioned before, my work in Bolivia involves initiating and leading a club de lectura (reading club) for the kids of Morado K’asa. About 12 kids between the ages of 8 and 15 participated in the club the first day, but the number has now risen above 20. It seems word spreads fast among the kids of the small town!
The work I do at the library would be impossible without the enthusiasm and support of Marisol, the 15-year-old librarian of Biblioteca Villa Zamora. She really impresses me; a full-time high school student, she not only runs the library but also plays three sports, as well as helping out in all the chores involved in living in an agricultural family. This picture of Marisol surrounded by children shows just how well she does her job:
So, if Marisol does her job so well, what do I do? Well, I organize and run the club, twice a week, to encourage the kids to enjoy reading, plus help them practice their own written expression. Each session begins with the kids visiting our “hygiene corner,” where they each have a comb, cup, and toothbrush. Before combing their hair and brushing their teeth, they wash their hands. The hygiene corner is designed to encourage the formation of healthy habits that aren’t really emphasized at home. (While the corner was the idea of another volunteer, we inaugurated it with this club.)
(For those of you who speak Spanish, yes, the shelf needs to be re-labeled)
Then after that lengthy hygiene process, which is handy in accommodating the way the kids trickle in, we talk about some aspect of books––the first day the cover of books, the next week the setting, the next week the characters. Then we do an activity to reinforce the day’s theme.
Last week, for instance, the theme was “setting.” I made a matching game, with 12 photos of famous places and 12 slips of paper with descriptions of the photos. The kids were divided into two teams, racing to match the photos. The game had two purposes–to teach them a little more about famous places they might encounter in books and in their studies, and to practice reading comprehension–being able to relate a picture with words. This team won in about 15 minutes. The picture matching activity was a huge success; the kids loved the competition and stayed focused as they took turns reading each slip aloud afterward, and then we identified the locations together on a map.
Every kid has a picture or a description in their hand–great teamwork!
The next week, the theme was “characters.” This activity was supposed to help the kids think about themselves and the qualities of “characters” (or people) in general. It’s pretty common–they wrote their names and chose words that described them that began with each letter. In practice, though, only a few kids really understood, and most of the kids ended up using the same words for each letter as the other kids. Oh well. They loved the photos. This girl was one of the only ones who not only understood that she needed to use adjectives, but also chose unique words that she thought described her. I don’t blame them––I blame my explaining abilities. Like I said, at the end of the day, they still loved it, especially with the printed pictures.
Name: Deysi pronounced “daisy”; words, in order, “sports,” “excited,” “me,” “healthy,” and “imaginative”
After the activity, we all settle down to read another chapter of a book they chose, called (translated), A Horse Named Liberty. It’s amazing that they’re able to quiet down to listen after getting worked up drawing or playing, but they do. I hope it teaches them how rewarding chapter books can be.
Well, there you have it! That’s my work at the library! Unfortunately, I can only be in Bolivia till mid-July, but with the support of Marisol and any other volunteers who come to Morado K’asa, hopefully the club will continue, grow, and thrive!