A Restorative Experience through Reading

A Restorative Experience through Reading

A Restorative Experience through Reading 1658 1128 Lavinia Hirsu

By Brenda Denisse Renteria Cervantes

In 2022, an intervention project was developed in a “Sala de lectura” (Reading room) to improve the self-perception of social inclusion of girls and boys from an excluded community through a picturebook. This community was the Patios de la Estación neighborhood in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.

Adult centrism is a system of oppression that does not include a guarantee of children’s participation in life. In addition, girls and boys in contexts of social exclusion find themselves on the border of rights, because it is not enough for them to know that they exist in laws, they need to perceive themselves as subjects of law in everyday life. One way to counteract this situation is through  picturebooks and reading mediation as a strategy that lessens the distance between unequal and power relations.

It is urgent to put the voice of childhood at the centre and at the front. The picturebook as a literary resource is not only an aesthetic object created through words and images, it also provokes a response in the participants motivated by reading mediation, which is the result of the meaning made by the girls and boys, and that can lead to the path of the transformation of realities.

We chose the book Eloísa y los bichos by Jairo Buitrago (2009) which is about a girl who moves with her father to a place inhabited by insects, causing her to feel strange and an “oddbug”. However, little by little, with the help of new friends and neighbours, the protagonist adapts to the change. After presenting the book to the children, we asked them where and who makes them feel mostly like “oddbug”, the answer was that they feel like like this outside their neighborhood and that it is adults who reject them the most. These answers respond to a process deep of discrimination and social exclusion but one way to reverse it is through those resources of hope that make them feel valuable, included and deserving of rights, such as reading about the experience that Eloisa lived through.