Empowering Young Nicaraguans through Reading
Having the ability to read well can open up a world of opportunities and is a valuable skill for children to develop – the younger the better. Offering children something to read that they can relate to will go a long way in encouraging them to develop a love for the written word. The nonprofit group ABREN – A Book to Read Empowers Nicaraguans – is dedicated to improving opportunities for education in Nicaragua’s rural areas. To this end they operate the Amigos Children’s Library and Learning Center based in Pueblo Nuevo, Estelí, where they offer a range of programs specifically designed to work along with the government schooling system to meet the needs of the local youth.
As the reading program gained momentum, ABREN’s Teacher Resource Center was created in 2010 to assist teachers in their challenging task of preparing children for life in the 21st century by helping them to understand that limitless knowledge can be gained through reading. Initially, the program made use of children’s books imported from Spain, many of which had been translated from English. While these had some value in developing reading skills, it soon became clear that the children needed quality Nicaraguan literature, written in age-appropriate language and with themes that they would be able to readily relate to. Undaunted, the dedicated staff at ABREN set about publishing a range of twenty books in their first year – all of which were reportedly greeted with much enthusiasm by children and teachers alike. A series of books featuring brother and sister team, Deyla and Diego, build on the fact that fictional stories can teach moral lessons, help children to ponder different points of view and formulate opinions, while connecting these to their own real-life situations.
The collection of books in ABREN’s library in Pueblo Nuevo has grown to more than 1,400 titles, with library teachers on hand to assist students in finding the information they need for projects, while directing them to leisure reading choices that will benefit them most. The ABREN preschool in Casa Margarita was built by volunteers from the community of Pueblo Nuevo in 2007 to ensure that children have the opportunity to learn from a young age. Other programs supported by ABREN include study groups, a writing club, and story hour. Certainly, the children in this rural area of Nicaragua are receiving the support they need to open up their world of opportunities through the written word.