Windows of the World

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go. ~ Dr. Seuss

Once upon a time, there was a retired teacher who moved to a tropical island in the middle of an enormous sweet sea, in the middle of Nicaragua, in the middle of Central America. She was raised in a culture of reading. Books opened doors to fantastic new worlds, unbelievable worlds where hope, desire, curiosity, imagination, courage, and dreams always led to …and they lived happily ever after.

That little girl was me! I moved to Nicaragua with three children’s books in Spanish. The neighborhood kids were always at my house asking to read my three books….over and over and over. “Do you have a library in your school?” I asked. “No,” they always responded. “We don’t have any books that we can read for fun.”

I couldn’t imagine living in a culture without books. In order to promote a culture of reading on Ometepe Island, I decided to start a mobile lending library. A stationary library would consume all of my time, and the effort to collect 3,000 children’s books to start a small library would take years. My motto was: Think small, think empowerment, think simple.

My overall goal is to simply get students interested in reading for pleasure and  self-education. I want to empower the teachers and the students to promote the culture of reading in their elementary schools. My mission is to think small…100 children’s books for every elementary school on Ometepe Island. Then, once a month, I can exchange the books with other schools, so that each school will have a supply of different reading material.

My mission, although it sounds simple, is complicated. First, there is no list of all the elementary schools on the island. I know that 5,000 children enrolled in the elementary schools gathered on the baseball field in Altagracia to receive a laptop from the Zamora Terán Foundation. See article here.

Gathering books and finding places that sell children’s books in Nicaragua has consumed most of my time. I designed a travel vest to hold donations of children’s books. I wear children’s books to Nicaragua on planes. I may look kind of funny waddling through airports wearing 40 pounds of books, but it’s a free way to get the books to Nicaragua.

Once I had 200 books, I found a simple system of categorizing the books and labeling the books for each school. A teacher friend of mine, gave me a free link to a teacher’s classroom library. My hopes are that when all of the schools have internet access, the kids can go online and check out a book.

June 1st was a big day! I delivered the first two cartons of books to La Paloma and Los Ramos. I hope to have two more cartons ready to go to other schools by August 1st.

Please visit my next page Ventanas del Mundo, where you can see how I delivered the books and the excitement of the children in receiving 100 books for their schools.

I am working on a page: How Can You Help? It should be ready, soon. But, then again…this IS Nicaragua and things move at a much slower pace. 🙂


13 thoughts on “Windows of the World

  1. Veterinary Medicine in Ometepe. I’m about to retire from the US Army and seriously considering leaving the fast freaking life of the US and to do positive things. I’m a veterinarian and Public Health officer.

  2. So glad you are doing this book project. When I spent a few weeks on the island of Dominica, I found out that their library bus had broken down (like, a year ago) and it didn’t seem likely that it would be fixed soon. So the children in that mountainous region had no access to books. When I came home, I started collecting books from library sales, yard sales, etc. and ended up sending 3 shipping barrels to two schools in that region. The shipping cost me way more than the books themselves!
    Unfortunately, I don’t have access to spanish language books, or else I would offer to do the same for your project.

    • Chris, so sorry for not responding sooner. I just found this comment. I don’t have a specific wish list for books, but the kids seem to love the Spanish books of stories with animals. I’m trying to keep the books at 5th grade level or below. It’s going to take a while for them to gain an understanding of reading for pleasure and chapter books scare them.

      • Reading is such a big part of my life I could not imagine not having books. I would love to be able to help you get some for your kids. I would love to drive to your Island some day!

  3. What a wonderful effort! I hope I can contribute a book or two when I visit next year. Just so you know, the lending library in Boquete was able to get donations of children’s books from the American embassy in Panama City — perhaps the one in Managua would be willing to help you?

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