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December 2019

The Library of Dreams

The Library of Dreams 720 960 Lavinia Hirsu

The library of dreams opened in 2016 in the San Jacinto neighborhood of El Salvador. It offers books and cultural activities to children and their families in a vulnerable situation given the context of violence in this area. The Library was founded by the poet and writer Jorge Argueta and supported by the IBBY Foundation.

In a quiet and safe environment, surrounded by trees, children approach stories, poetry and books, accompanied by volunteer mediators and cultural workers.

In our program “reading is wonderful” we rely on the picturebook, an essential tool to bring our children closer to reading because we are convinced that it is a great help for children to take an interest in the history from the image and the text is easily understood. Which allows the small reader to dare to express himself and be less resistant to sharing his emotions, it is a work that has been forged since we started with the first headquarters of the dream library.

Our little readers love the book “René has two surnames”, they compare and think that they also have two names and two surnames, but wonder why others only have one last name? Another title, “The Pigeon Needs a Bath”, has helped them understand the benefit of cleanliness, how nice it is to feel clean and healthy.

Mediation incorporates aloud reading and creative activities around books. In particular, once a month we select a book with which we want to strengthen or reinforce some of the values and the reading is done aloud by the collaborator, then a playful activity such as assembling a puzzle or drawing and coloring about what has been bought of history.

Our experience has been rewarding, as the boy and girl who has had an approach to the album book is captivated by him. The result is that children come back again and again and ask to read and see the books again. We have noticed that they are getting better in their interpersonal relationships and their responses are less reactive. The program will reach its third year at the San Jacinto Market and its first year in Santo Domingo de Guzmán.

Sharing a book and sharing memories in Tijuana, Mexico

Sharing a book and sharing memories in Tijuana, Mexico 707 424 Lavinia Hirsu

In my case, I’m involved with the community in Tijuana that fosters community building and empowerment, with cultural and literary activities being of central importance. Most of those participating in the activities of this project are not youth, they are adults and they are LGBT, and oftentimes they also share a history of being migrants themselves. Some of these persons also share other histories as well, such as that of being HIV-positive and/or having an addiction history, as well as other life circumstances. Although the workshop “Children’s Literature in Critical Contexts of Displacement” was directed at working with children and young people, the activities are also applicable to work with adults.

On one occasion we read Sidewalk Flowers, a picturebook by the poet JonArno Lawson and the illustrator, Sydney Smith. The reading and the sharing of this book lead to a wide variety of responses amongst those of us at this meeting. Perhaps not surprisingly, the feeling of nostalgia was common to many of these responses, with many remembering stories of their youth and of other times in their lives when they moved from one place, one city, or one country to another. Beyond the feeling of nostalgia, there were also many remembered feelings of joy and surprise and so many other things. The memories in our heart are many and varied, and it is well worth the effort to remember and to once again be inspired by them.

We continue to work in other spaces (also with picturebooks), in fact, now I see my Sala de lectura as an itinerant one.