Kids travel near and far at the library

Girl with jorge el curiosoby Mariah Quinn Duffy, library volunteer

en español

The newly renovated library has opened its doors to a host of new activities to promote reading and literacy. Mariah Quinn Duffy, library volunteer, describes a new initiative she has been helping lead, called Passport to Reading.

On a recent trip to Guatemala, executive director Shari Blindt donated several packs of brightly colored pencils and asked that they be distributed to children in the library. The library staff created a crossword puzzle about animals and announced that all library visitors who completed the crossword could earn a pencil. To our surprise, 50 children participated in the activity! And the library’s regular visitors were soon clamoring for more activities.

To capitalize on this enthusiasm, the library launched the Passport to Reading Initiative. The activities aim to encourage kids to explore new books, to read carefully and critically, and to discover new ways of having fun while learning.

Homework that’s fun

Each week, visitors to the library are invited to participate in a new activity, ranging from crossword puzzles to reading comprehension quizzes to math puzzles. This week, we’re working on writing our own Corduroy story. Each completed activity earns the children a stamp in their passport. The children’s enthusiasm for these activities is really quite incredible, especially considering that the worksheets are rather like homework!

What children like best about the library

Each traveler is given a “souvenir folder” to store their passport and worksheets. We ask the children to decorate their folder by sharing what they like best about the library. Some say they come for “the many beautiful books,” others because they “learn a lot and have fun.” Claudia explained that she likes to read because it helps her to have a big imagination.

Favorite games in the library include Bingo, puzzles, Bananagrams, and crossword puzzles. We also asked the children what they wished they knew more about: Reyna is interested in flowers, Carlos enjoys ghost stories, and Luis, an aspiring doctor, looks forward to learning more about the human body.

Sharing interests, impressions, and aspirations

The Passport to Reading Initiative began as a means of encouraging children to engage in enriching play and to think critically when reading. However, through these activities, the children are also able to share about their own lives, interests, and impressions.

We recently learned, for example, that Emelin hopes to be a veterinarian, while Dani aspires to be an artist. We learned that if Leidy could travel anywhere in the world, she would like to visit a place where there are monkeys like Curious George. After explaining that Curious George is happy when he reunites with the Man with the Big Yellow Hat, Reyna shared that she is happy when her father brings home oranges. Kelly dreams of visiting her sponsor in the United States, José Luis is happy when he earns good grades, and a Mirsa is happy just being in the library.

For more photos of children and families enjoying the library and books, click here.

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