I recently visited the library our teens in Chuacruz opened in their local elementary school. The teens staff it themselves in the mornings before they go off to school at midday. There were children, each with a book, seated around tables that filled the room. They are too young to read silently so there is this sweet, soft, whispering of words being sounded out and stories enjoyed that gently fills the room.
And dearer still are the promoters themselves, tucking themselves in amongst the children, helping them learn new words and worlds, helping them think critically and creatively. More than anything they teach the young ones to enjoy reading. Pages are turned. Smiles are shared. Imaginations are sparked. You can literally see this happening right before your eyes.
This scene looks very different than anything you would have seen ten years ago in this town. Our teens remember how they learned to read. They were scolded and even hit when they got things wrong. Fear was used as a motivational tool. Corporal punishment was all too common. In contrast, the loving hearts our teens bring to their work, in and of itself, will reap huge rewards in the future of this community.
And Reading Village scholars are daring to go beyond the status quo. They do not intend for the next generation to learn the same way they did. They ask open-ended questions to allow children to reflect and think critically, rather than questions with a right or wrong answer. They invite children to participate, rather than sit passively and be lectured. They encourage children to create rather than copy. They give them every opportunity to be fully themselves.
– Linda Smith, Founder & Executive Director of Reading Village