Biblioteca Comunitaria Dr. William House is a community library functioning under the NGO, Learn Across Borders. We are open to the entire community, though especially focused on raising up readers and training teachers.
The library is located in a city of 250,000 served otherwise by one public library that does not lend books. This is a norm country-wide as books are cost-prohibitive and seen as too expensive for children to touch. Our library lends books and our collection of about 4,000 books consists mostly of high-interest, children and young adult books.
Traveling Story Time came about after months of little success attracting parents and the 10 & under crowd to the library. They weren’t coming to us, so we decided to go to them. We now use two tactics to expose as many kids as possible to quality children’s literature.
Traveling Story Time makes school visits. We visit local, public and private schools, none of which have functional school libraries, offering engaging readings to kids who are starved for good books. Students are delighted when they receive a visit, and it’s not just the little ones who receive our team with wide smiles. Fourth & fifth grade classrooms have the same reaction, ecstatic to be drawn into tales specially picked for their age group. We use these visits to advertise the library’s services as well, and we’re always overjoyed to see students and teachers who come to check out books after having taken part in Traveling Story Time.
Traveling Story Time also travels into the community. We offer basic training in literacy strategies and engagement to volunteers, then we all head out to neighborhoods and parks with books volunteers have chosen (fiction and non-fiction). The method is simple: volunteers approach homes and public areas where there are children and offer to read a couple of books to the kids. While one volunteer engages kids in stories, another chats with the parents, giving tips on supporting their child’s literacy development and offers an invitation to the library. Finally, each visit ends with the children picking out a small reproducible book, with the clear instructions to ask their parents to read it to them at bedtime.
Utilizing the many strengths of Dominican culture, such as openness and a strong sense of community, we are opening doors to youngsters who might never have known that they are bookworms.