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November 2023

Pathways to Reading with ‘Libros Cartoneros’

Pathways to Reading with ‘Libros Cartoneros’ 626 499 Lavinia Hirsu

By Mery Luz Yataco Chacalliaza

“Ediciones Calabazas” arose in the province of Yauyos as a need to bridge the gap in access to books in school and out-of-school educational services. The pedagogical proposal “Forming reading families” was implemented in educational institutions, especially in those most isolated by the pandemic.

In each district, population centre or annex of the province of YAUYOS there is a variety of cultural and linguistic richness to which children are exposed, including history and customs that are transmitted orally. Through the strategy of “Libros cartoneros” (books made from salvaged cardboard with a hand-painted or collage cover), the aim was to collect the experiences of the communities, as well as to value the languages such as Jaqaru, Kawki and Quechua, which are established in the districts of the “Sur Chico” area, such as Catahuasi, San Jeronimo and VIÑAC.

The use of the strategy of ‘libros cartoneros’ has as its purpose the implementation of reading spaces based on the productions of the children, parents and teachers of the province, this strategy being an alternative of publication of very economic texts due to the materials used in their elaboration, depending on each context, such as cardboard, fabrics, dyes, seeds of the plants, skin of the animals, among others.

This strategy allowed for the development of reading, writing and oral learning, which was reflected in the children’s interviews with the community’s elders, in the production of their texts based on their writing levels, in the development of oral skills in the presentation of their texts and in their participation in the family reading marathons. In this way, rewarding encounters were strengthened in the presentations at ‘cartoneras pedagógicas’ fairs, where the texts created by families and teachers are put on sale, and purchased by visitors to the fair.

The teacher plays an important role in the mediation of readers in early childhood, as it is at this age that the greatest number of synaptic connections can be made. Through the opportunities offered to them at home, at school and in the community, quality learning is developed.

Being a ‘cartonero’ teacher means being recognised as a writer and this allows the sensitizing and enthusing of others in the publication of books, books that have been registered in the National Library and also in the international library of cartonero books, such as the registration at the University of Wisconsin.

The reading work succeeded in forming “Reading Families from early childhood”, where reading environments are fostered at home, allowing encounters with reading based on their own experiences. Some of these sessions can be seen in the following link:

“To travel far, there is no better vessel than a book”: the trajectory of an itinerant library narrated from different geographies. Part 2.

“To travel far, there is no better vessel than a book”: the trajectory of an itinerant library narrated from different geographies. Part 2. 481 674 Lavinia Hirsu

By Diana Cruz (Guatemalan writing from the United Kingdom)

Following the trajectory (remotely) of the travelling library ‘Bibliomochilas’ has given me the opportunity to develop as a researcher and to interrogate the metaphors and paradoxes that have formed and continue to form us as readers in Latin America. During the process of online interviews with teachers, mothers, and fathers of the first level of education, I perceived the constant presence of the aphorism ‘The letter enters with blood’ behind the teaching of the reading, an aphorism which resonates in its imperative adherence to the formation of the reading habit in my own country, Guatemala. In contrast, ‘Reading without knowing how to read’ is an inclusive approach that bets on tenderness which the Yauyan community of early childhood level proposes to replace this tradition of reprimand. Through tenderness, the encounters between childhood, adults, reading, and literature are linked.

Community ties are also strengthened through tenderness and this action, in my opinion, oscillates between playfulness and rebellion. The Yauyan teachers/mediators guide a participatory reading where the exploration and interpretation of the image takes precedence over the decoding of the text and in the context of the first years of education, regulates that growing anxiety of hurrying the learning towards the reading of the written text. The potential of reading images materializes in a space where the children narrate the story by connecting each illustration as the pages turn. This is a space of reading where literature is actively created, and where there is an encouragement to want, need, and look for more words to enrich the dialogues between children and adults. In short, it is a space where the appropriation of language, both textual and visual, is encouraged.

The itinerant nature of the Bibliomochilas has managed to trace new routes to neighbouring provinces within the Lima region. With this same dynamic it is expected to generate strategies to expand the geography of the project, and likewise, to expand the range of possibilities for its readers, because “to travel far, there is no better vessel than a book”.

“To travel far, there is no better vessel than a book”: the trajectory of an itinerant library narrated from different geographies. Part 1.

“To travel far, there is no better vessel than a book”: the trajectory of an itinerant library narrated from different geographies. Part 1. 595 1061 Lavinia Hirsu

By Rosario Obregón (Peruvian writing from the United States)

Mi Primer Libro Perú (My First Book Peru) is the product of the encounter between necessity and opportunity: between the scarcity in one part of the world and the abundance in others. From 2016, thanks to the generosity of diverse institutions and through the volunteer work, which includes teachers, librarians, university students, and entire families, we procured the rescue of thousands of picturebooks in California, USA, and we sent them to initiatives in Peru, particularly those aimed at reclaiming the role of thousands teachers, and promoters of the first learning level of the public education system. The value of those books resides in the rich visual content that they offer. We saw the opportunity to promote first reading experiences based on the images, textures, forms, diverse art styles, and themes represented in thousands of books that, having completed their circulation in one part of the world, find a new purpose, new readers in new geographies.

COVID brought us technological transformations which under other circumstances would have taken a long time to materialize and gave us the opportunity to create remote training meetings with many of the recipients of these books. Standing out among these was an extraordinary group of women, teachers, reading promoters and mothers that meet the needs of just over 1200 boys and girls enrolled in educational institutions at the first learning level in the province of Yauyos, Peru.

Under the leadership of the then level specialist, Mary Yataco, and her team of ‘Docentes Fortaleza’ (specially trained teacher leaders)  and accompanied by Caroll Castro, founder of ‘Ucumari Cartonero’, a training program was developed prior to the arrival of the books. This allowed teachers and promoters to familiarize themselves with their contents and prepare them for the interactions that would take place through them. Five books were allocated per child, distributed through 1200 ‘Bibliomochilas’ (book rucksacks), travel packs managed by the families themselves, who transported and circulated the books according to schedules agreed upon between teachers and families in both rural and urban areas, bibliographic deserts which are so common in the country.

The possibility of exposing the children participating in the program to the 6000 books that are circulating in the geographical area covered by the Local Education Management Unit (UGEL), Yauyos, also gave us the opportunity to establish academic alliances with institutions like the Faculty of Early Education   School of Education’s Early Childhood Education Program  at the Catholic University of Peru through Carmen Sandoval, advisor to the group of students of the ‘Social Responsibility Team’, whose contribution was decisive for the arrival and distribution of the books. Another strategic strand was the research in charge of Diana Cruz, a scholarship student at the University of Glasgow in the Erasmus Mundus Masters Programme ‘Children’s Literature, Media and Culture’ who also accompanied the project… (See Part 2).