by Lucia Marquez, Director of Living Libraries
The following is a summary of the speech Lucia gave at our 10-year anniversary ceremony.
It all started with a small community library in the “Señor de Huanca” area. There Megan McKinzie, founder of Living Libraries, elementary science teacher and curriculum specialist, designed Living Libraries’ work model until 2011. Then the experience matured, and in 2012 the project took a new direction, becoming an educational intervention a school’s reading plan. Our pilot program: the boys’ school Gerardo Iquira Pizarro in Miralfores. I joined Megan’s team and together we adjust the curriculum for this new experience and so began the project of Living Libraries with the stamp of approval of the Regional Ministry of Education who certified the teachers who graduated our program.
The road wasn’t flat. Working with a diverse human team is rich, as long as we’re all pursuing the same goal. When that doesn’t coincide, we are just a few people swimming against the current. Being the “new kids in school” and demonstrating that our work is worth the effort takes time. Soon the teachers join our ranks and start working toward the same goal: improving reading comprehension among our students. It wasn’t all about transmitting ideas and information. We learned about what it means to be human in relationship, becoming great friends, experiencing a unity based in admiration for this vocation of service.
Today we can say that we have trained 10 schools and the story will continue in 2020 with four more.
As part of the Living Libraries project we evaluate a sample group of students to measure the impact of the training we give the teachers who are participating. We look to see if the metacognitive reading strategies improve the student’s ability to understand reading and demonstrate critical thinking. In general, the results are as follows:
(The following evaluation has a three-step scale: beginning, in process, or achieved)
At the beginning the students read at a “beginning” level and some scored high enough to be “in process”. Finishing the Living Libraries program, the student read at a level of “in process” or “achieved”.
Now the challenge for each school who has graduate our program is to propose a reading plan elaborated by an interdisciplinary team from the school, in order to promote the use of these reading comprehension strategies, to organize reading events in the library, and to read, read, read.