Recently, I was rummaging around looking for information on childhood vaccinations and stumbled across my “Baby Book” and a comment written by my dad: “Linda corners all visitors, pestering them to read to her.”
I remember playmates hiding their books when they knew I’d be visiting. Reading was my passion – much more interesting than playing!
Elementary school opened new literary vistas with libraries; every week, each class spent an hour in the school library and each student got to select a book or two to enjoy for a week. Then I discovered the public library, and high school provided more learning opportunities.
These windows are not open for a large percentage of Costa Rican students, particularly in the primary grades. The government does not have the resources to equip public schools with libraries to whet the appetites of young minds and stimulate love of reading.
Three years ago, the Women’s Club of Costa Rica decided to begin making a small impact on this deficiency with a pilot project to test the viability of helping individual schools develop their own libraries.
With money raised from various fundraising activities, the first project was developed at MauroFernándezPrimary School in an urban marginal neighborhood near San Juan de Dios Hospital in downtown San José. Dozens of students, teachers and government representatives attended the inauguration of a donation of more than 100 books (including many recommended by the Ministry of Public Education): read-forpleasure books that the students could check out, enjoy and share with their families.
The project, entitled “Leer Es Divertido” (“Reading Is Fun”), was vetted and monitored by a committee of Women’s Club members headed by Isabel Atienza, and was so successful that the club decided to expand it. More schools were reviewed – security was a major determining factor; minimally, a part-time librarian was needed as well – and since that beginning, three more schools in different parts of the country have benefited from the program.
The librarians and teachers all report that the books are in high demand, and that the children care for them and treasure them. Contributions for the program are devoted in full to equipping the selected primary school libraries. The four completed libraries have all been located in areas with few resources.
If you would like to find out more about the projects supported by Women’s Club and how you can help, please call 240-4792 or 282-6801, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.wccr.org.
After spending her childhood and young adult years in Hawaii, Linda Manoll worked in public relations, advertising, sales and hospital administration. She has lived in Canada and various parts of the U.S. mainland and has been a resident of Costa Rica since 1985. Manoll has been a member of the Women’s Club for seven years, serving on the board and coordinating various fundraising activities and the annual directory.