On June 6, 2016, the board of Reading Village gathered from around the country and abroad for its annual board retreat. At 9:00 a.m., the screen lit up with 6 enthusiastic faces from Guatemala. The miles vanished and we were sitting across the table from some of the Reading Village youth leaders. None of us could stop smiling and waving.
After a few salutations, Alicia jumped in front of the camera to show us the newly published book created by some of our promoters. It is a children’s book with illustrations reflecting the communities in which our teens live and work. And it is bilingual: Katquichel and Spanish. Three stories told by the elders of the communities and recorded by our teens, transcribed by our teens, published by our teens. Best of all, the books are now being shared with the little ones in their communities. It may be the first of its kind! Now that is the magic of the work of Reading Village.
I sat and looked at the excitement and pride flying from Guatemala to Boulder from these youth who love reading and now love writing! They are eager to get busy and create more books to share with the youngsters with whom they read each week. Grandparents hold stories, treasures really, and only need to be asked.
I was struck by the universality of children’s tales. The book titled, Cuentos Para Crecer, (Stories to Grow By), contains 3 tales: one about a cat at night, the next about a traditional snack and the third about “Yikes, something is biting me!” Haven’t we all been read such a story in our childhood? Think back, remember one such tale, and now think forward. A tale almost exactly like one that filled your imagination every night, read by someone who loved you, will be filling the imagination of young indigenous children in rural Guatemala read by one of our youth leaders with love. That is real human connection across time and distance.
The power of story and the people who share it, nothing better.
By: Jan Wanner, Reading Village Board Member