Ruth and I, Carol, have now given three workshops in small schools - two rural and one on the edge of Leon, in order to help the teachers prepare to open the first school libraries they have ever worked with. It’s not easy but it is exciting particularly when we get to the final phase of the day when the teachers get to open up boxes and boxes of brand new books that the Canadian NGO, SchoolBox has brought for them.
The first two parts of the workshop are designed to prepare the teachers to work in schools with books they can put into the hands of students.
We first read to the teachers themselves. Usually we read ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ because it is colourful, has repetitions and is amusing. Ruth, of course reads and I get to watch the faces of the the teachers as they discover a lovely children’s book for the first time.
We talk about reading aloud to classes - why and how - and about how to get the children to read silently too. Over the course of the morning we read at least three books to the teachers so that they have truly had enjoyable experiences with which to relate when they go back into the classrooms with the books their school is receiving.
The second session is about how we at Biblioteca ‘Puedo Leer’ prepare books to put on the shelves of the library and how we organize them on the shelves. This part of the workshop is very basic. First he teachers need to be able to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction. We use about thirty books we have brought from the library. The teachers are quite comfortable with the idea of having books to help students with their school work but they are not used to storybooks. Here in Nicaragua books are too expensive to be able to buy books just to read for fun - particularly for children. We then have the teachers find the things we have done to the books to prepare them for the library - stamped our name in, put a number on each book that coincides with the inventory and putting a letter on the spine so we can put the books on the shelves in alphabetical order. There is always a sharp learning curve in this part of the workshop.
SchoolBox has then been providing everyone with lunch - a favourite part of the day. You need to feed teachers no matter where you are!
After lunch, the exciting part for the teachers happens as they get to open all the boxes SchoolBox is giving them and to see what books they are getting for their school - storybooks, dictionaries, books about space, dinosaurs, encyclopedias, atlases, and even a real globe of the world etc etc etc!
However, there is still lots of work to do as every book has to have the name of the school written into it, a number assigned to it, then the number and the title have to be entered into the inventory (a regular school notebook) and every book spine has to be labelled with the author’s surname initials. All this work is done by hand and done cheerfully by the teachers working in pairs. It’s a lot of work to prepare two hundred books but the rewards are truly great and the teachers realize this. We get hugs and smiles at the end of every long day and invitations to come back at any time.
We are doing two more workshops next month and both Ruth and I are looking forward to them.