This is a time of year where I’m especially thankful for Living Libraries and the impact they’re making in the lives of kids, teachers, and their families here in Arequipa. Our team is phenomenal—Lucia’s leadership and Nancy’s artistic spirit combine with teammates and volunteers to make a huge impact. It makes me thankful for all of you who follow along and support us with your constant giving, donating books, and praying for us as you share Living Libraries’ story with others along the way.
It’s an honor to get to be a part of Living Libraries, in particular as I get to participate in the end-of-year ceremonies where we official hand over the library to schools that are graduating our program. We’ve had two of these ceremonies in the last two weeks and I wanted to share some pictures as I try to paint a picture of the transformation these schools have undergone.
To start, these schools had zero or almost zero books (besides state-provided text books) and no space dedicated to reading. The schools provide a space, teachers and parents work to get it ready, and we (yes, you and us!) fill it with books. This is the first (and maybe most visible) change.
We work with the kids in the library to start to develop a culture of reading and to awaken an imagination and creativity that comes through reading and understanding what you read. They begin to explore the world through books. They connect with authors and illustrators and characters of the past and fictional worlds to reflect on their present. And it’s fun.
All of that is important, but our main focus (and the least visible transformation) has to do with the teachers. Without the teachers, our work would die when we left the school, but because of the teachers, our two-year investment in a school will pay off for years to come. These teachers are remarkable. They’re hesitant as they start off the program because we’re suggesting new (and sometimes silly) ways of doing things in the library. By the end of it we see a new imagination in the teachers and a dedication to applying reading comprehension strategies not only in the library, but in all of their subjects as well.
While we hand over these libraries and end our formal relationship with these two schools, we look forward to an ongoing relationship built on a mutual commitment to educating kids and participating in justice, wellbeing, and joy in the city of Arequipa.
Thank you for being a part of this.