For over a year, the Curiosity Circle has been helping Nicaraguan families fall in love with books, promoting family reading cultures and strengthening reading comprehension skills through our afternoon story hours. Nicaragua is growing economically, but it’s still one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. Half of children do not finish sixth grade, and recent UNESCO literacy tests show half of third graders scoring at the lowest levels: 0 or 1 out of 4. As Room to Read points out, “knowing how to read makes people safer, healthier and more self-sufficient.” We think reading is a key to escaping poverty.
Three afternoons per week, our storytellers load two plastic tubs of books and a huge blanket on a bicycle taxi and haul them to parks and street corners (some are dirt roads) around the city. The excitement at story hours is palpable. About twenty children attend every event. Adults even come by themselves to read the children’s books! And their eyes are shining – many people who come to our story hours have never seen or touched books like these. But we have two big obstacles: many of our story hour participants want to take books home, but we don’t have a reliable way of transporting the books. Additionally, relying on taxis limits where we can do story hours.
To nurture curiosity through literacy and help Nicaraguans use creativity and innovation to overcome challenges of poverty, the Curiosity Circle will use their Better World Books grant to obtain a small van to house a mobile lending library in accompaniment with the story hours in public parks and poor neighborhoods around the city of León, Nicaragua.
“Having a mobile library will be a game-changer for us. We will finally be able to send families home with books every week and do story hours anywhere in the city. We will also be able to do two story hours a day rather than one, increasing our overall capacity from four story hours a week, serving 100 kids, to nine a week, serving 225 kids.”