"If it weren’t for Reading Village I would not be here. I would be in the field carrying heavy loads of vegetables."
To Linda Smith, founder of Reading Village, this simple statement coming from a young boy who is part of her innovative reading program in Guatemala, is like music to her ears.
It was only a few years ago when Linda lost her job (along with so many others) that the idea for Reading Village was born. Trying to get her bearings and think about the future, Linda traveled to Guatemala – for her, a serene place filled with smiling kids. As she walked around and spoke to the children she met, she asked, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" In most cases, the only response she got was a blank stare. Most kids growing up in Guatemala have very little; they are surrounded by profound poverty and little reason to hope that things might change. When Linda came upon a tiny local library where a group of kids were learning to read, she noticed the difference immediately…kids who know how to read can dream about what might be and it is the "dreaming" piece that actually helps change reality.
Reading Village works in small villages developing an environment where reading is important and encouraged. To effect this change, they form leadership groups of middle and high school students who act as mentors to younger children, reading with them and encouraging them to succeed. The program also provides scholarships for the leadership group as well as free books for local institutions and groups.
The Good People Fund was excited about providing funds for the purchase of new books – imagine the wonder in those young eyes when they can actually read about Peter Pan or James and the Giant Peach!
Reading Village has also developed a meaningful Hanukkah program, suitable for Jewish educators and families. Check it out: