Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Even Kids in Remote Colombian Villages are Reading Piñata Books!

As Americans, we don’t think twice about our easy access to books through libraries. As kids, we went to the public library to check out books that took us around the world, into Outer Space, and to lands that exist only in our imaginations. And we used the school library to read books for reports and other projects. If we were lucky, we were overcome by what author Pat Mora calls “bookjoy” and trips to the library were for pleasure and not just to meet school obligations.

Here in Houston, residents can choose from a slew of libraries. They can go to libraries run by the city —Houston Public Library, which has over 40 branches—or they can go to libraries run by Harris County Public Library, which has over 25 branches. There are libraries close to home and others close to school and work. There are even libraries with “drive through” service. How easy is that? Order your book online, and then drive through to pick it up.

But many people around the world are not so fortunate. Libraries as we know them don’t exist everywhere. Sadly, many children don’t have access to books the way Americans do. But the awareness that books are critical to self-improvement ensures that people find a way to share books and encourage literacy skills.

For people in rural Colombia, books, and even the ability to read, are a rare luxury. But 38-year-old Luis Soriano has made it his mission to spread literacy by taking books to children in villages where schools often don’t exist. With the help of two faithful donkeys, Alfa and Beto, he operates the biblioburro, a different kind of mobile library.

CNN recently profiled Mr. Soriano and included a short video on its site. We were thrilled to see a child holding a particular book—Butterflies on Carmen Street / Mariposas en la calle Carmen by Monica Brown—which was carried by a biblioburro and found its way into the hands of a little boy living a world away; and that is pure “bookjoy!”

To learn more, click here.

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