I'm so excited about the Story-a-Thon event I'm participating in at the Boulder Bookstore this Saturday. It's a benefit for Reading Village, a non-profit that fosters leadership, educational opportunities, and literacy in rural Guatemala. All day, local authors and educators and other folks will be at the store reading our favorite picture books aloud (some in English, some in Spanish). There will also be a bookmark station where kids can make bookmarks for themselves and for kids in Guatemalan villages. It'll be a fun, fun day!
The past two years, I've donated 5% of my royalties to another organization that focused on scholarships and leadership in the Guatemalan Village of Xucaneb. I'm happy to say that they've met their goal of creating a self-sustaining program with local leadership. This year I'm looking forward to donating to Reading Village... these kinds of programs are so important. (Rural Guatemala has a 50% illiteracy rate.)
Reading Village's belief statement reminds me of Maria Virginia's speech near the end of The Queen of Water (on pgs 318-319), where she talks about how she spent her early childhood without a single book in her house, and how when she did learn to read (as a teen), it opened a world of possibilities for her. Both then and now, she feels strongly that literacy and access to books are keys to getting out of poverty and creating a fulfilling life for oneself.
Here's the statement from Reading Village:
"Every child should be able to grow up free to express their fullest self, give what they have to contribute to their families, their communities, their countries and the world.
Access to books, the ability to read, and to think critically and imaginatively are fundamental to the full development of individuals and society.
Poverty is a human construct and not a natural condition. It can be eliminated. The world is as we shape it."
As Maria Virginia has experienced, reading books gives people the power to shape their own worlds.
I'm hoping that on our next trip to Guatemala with Lil Dude (who we adopted from Guatemala four years ago), we can visit the communities where Reading Village works.
Speaking of Lil Dude, he wants me to play castle with him now, so, without further ado... here's the info for the Story-a-Thon Reading Village Benefit event-- if you're in the Boulder area, I'd *love* to see you there!
Saturday, Jan 21, 2012, Boulder Bookstore in downtown Boulder, CO. I'll be reading picture books in English and Spanish from 1:30-2:00. They're not my own books, but there will be copies of my books on hand that I can autograph for you. I'll plan on hanging out there before and after my session (from 1 pm-2:30) to chat with you about books, writing, and life! You can find details on the event here.
Thanks for reading!
( * photos from the Reading Village and Boulder Bookstore websites)