The Buena Vista Library has been open for two months, and what a two months it has been! We have been delighted by the enthusiastic response from children, adolescents and adults alike. From its very first day, the library has been a bubble of energetic reading, story sharing and educational activities.
We have been astonished not only by the number of books being read in the library (to date, over 1,000 books have been read) but also the capacity many students have for digesting dense literary material.
Without any prompt from us, the library members are freely choosing literary classics such as Ovid’s ‘Art of Love’, Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories. What we have seen in the first two months of The Lovely View Library is that these young people, who have lived their entire lives starved of the opportunity to read, are relishing books with a fervour which teachers across the US and UK only dream of seeing amongst their students. For us at La Choza Chula, it has been a profoundly moving and motivational process to bear witness to.
Our book lending program got off to a flying start, over 200 books have been taken out and successfully returned. During our library open hours from 2-5pm every weekday afternoon, it is a regular sight to see kids scurrying back into the library grinning ear to ear and clutching a paperback children’s story which they withdrew from the library just the day before.
One of the most successful stories of the lending scheme is that books are being read by mothers and fathers too. This is allowing whole families to bond and unite over the joy of stories but most importantly, it is allowing many adults who struggle with reading to practice with basic text in the privacy of their home. The fact that their kids can go and pick up the book affords illiterate adults a level of anonymity which makes reading a lot easier for them to practice, without putting themselves at risk of the embarrassment which is a concomitant and prohibitive symptom of illiteracy.