We believe community-created libraries can fundamentally transform learning environments at schools. Books broaden horizons, open minds and inspire creativity. The Las Lagunas primary school library was inaugurated in July 2019, transforming a previously un used storage room into an active learning space!
This is the Las Lagunas primary school, where we worked with the community to start a library that was inaugurated in July 2019 after a year of hard work! 33 Kindergarten and primary-aged students (grades 1-6) come here every day to be taught by one superwoman of a teacher: Lorena Jimenez. Located in the rural village of Las Lagunas, most of the children’s families work in coffee production and during their weekends and holidays (and sometimes during harvest season, which falls during school time) the children join their families in the fields. The school building has two rooms, but as there is only one teacher, the students are usually all in one room. The library has therefore been created in the other room, which was previously an empty, unused storage space.
Like most rural primary schools in Honduras, the Las Lagunas school suffers from a severe lack of resources. While there were previously some outdated textbooks, the children did not have any other reading materials. Lorena wanted the library to be an active learning space for her students where they could come to read, learn and grow as students and individuals.
“I want to introduce them to the world of literature, science, art and technology through reading,” said Lorena while we discussed the kinds of books she envisioned having in the space. “The idea of the library is that these books are not only about fantastical characters, but also books that educate in values, general culture, gender equality, environmental education, nutrition, emotional education, entrepreneurship, and other things.”
We also worked together to put together a list of books that included classic Latin American stories with characters that the children at this school will be able to relate to: children with brown skin, families who work in agriculture and shoemaking, and stories from Central American folklore.
Community Fundraising and Planning
For community projects like this one, a local leadership committee is formed to plan and lead the project implementation, and to raise a portion of the funds for the project. This makes our projects truly community-driven and means that the whole community feels a sense of ownership and responsibility over their library from the very beginning. The Las Lagunas school community organised sales of ‘Nacatamales’ and other activities to raise their portion of the funds. In addition to fundraising, the community repaired the floor of the library space, and made a plan for how the library would be used once completed.
The Creation of the Space
Over the course of a week, the community came together to create and paint the library space. These were days filled with excitement, chaos, hard work and so, so much passion! Every single child had a part in painting the walls that adorned the library’s walls, and mothers, fathers, sisters, uncles and other community members came along to get involved too.
Finally, once the space was complete, everyone came together for an inauguration ceremony and celebration. The honour of cutting the ribbon at the ceremony went to Carlitos and Claudia, two first graders. The thick blue and white ribbon stretched in front of all the students, and the rest of the community gathered to watch. Laughter ensued when they struggled, little hands unable to get the adult-sized scissors to cut the ribbon.
As part of the library inauguration ceremony, there was also a reading contest, where students read aloud a text. In second grade, the winner was Pedro, a boy who, only last year, had not wanted to go to school at all. The community’s teacher, Lorena, had convinced him to keep coming, and he became his grade’s representative in the school’s new reading club, a group who will lead and support their fellow classmates in reading!
The Library Today
The Las Lagunas library is used daily. Each child has a folder in which they compile the various exercises and activities they complete after each reading session – drawings of alternative story endings, pictures dividing the stories into 3 parts, and drawings with summaries, descriptions and short opinion pieces.