"Living Library" is a 2 year project that aims at making the act of reading
and writing as an everyday activity for poor children and their teachers. This would mean
less failures in elementary school and more children learning about their reality and how
to change it. These "libraries" are being implanted in Community Centers in
charge of children and adolescents living in the poor districts on the fringe of the big
cities, where huge slums and acute social problems are concentrated. To achieve its
objective the Project team provides personal development for the community teachers by
preparing them to work with books and reading activities in the context of poverty and
deprivation of their institutions. Each library is unique, taking into account the needs
and the culture of the community where it is located. The Project is supported by a grant
from Citibank in partnership with the Abrinq Foundation for the Children's Rights.
From the mid 40's to the 70's the big cities in the south of Brazil expanded due to
internal migrations. The poorest settlers were brushed-off to the outskirts of these
cities and there lives today a great mass of unqualified workers crammed in huge slums.
Some of these slums have no water supply and none have sewage systems. In these poor
districts we find the highest rates of illiteracy and elementary school failures. There,
also, can be found the worst schools and most doubtful health services, despite all the
improvements conquered by organized inhabitants during the 80's.
During those years, with the intensification of social problems, many non governmental
organizations were created and many existing Community Centers boosted their activities to
provide non formal education for children and adolescents after school hours. Most
families send their children to these institutions to take them off the streets. There
they receive food, several types of care and the help of an adult for their homework,
since they are typically children that fail in elementary school.
Many children stay at school for several years without ever learning how read and write.
The majority of those "scholar failure cases" come from environments deprived of
books and written materials.
These institutions work with little or no materials and untrained professionals seldom
identified as teachers - they are called entretainers or nannies. They want help, they
want training in order to provide high standart educational support that can realy change
the life of these children. One of the handicaps of these teachers and children is the
fact that books (mainly good ones) are absent in their homes and working places.
The "Living Library" project has been created to meet this need for good books,
information and professional training. The Project allows the access to books as sources
of knowledge and information, enchantment and pleasure at the same time that they
contribute to a better school performance. Books will help many children overcome their
handicap: entering school without previous contact with written materials at their homes,
which often leads them to failure at school. It will allow the personal development of the
community teachers by preparing them to work with books and reading activities in the
context of poverty and deprivation found at the institutions.
To achieve its objective the Project team : identifies and selects the organizations
eligible to receive the library, taking into account the quality of the educational work
offered to the community; prepares the community teachers and follows-up this work at the
community; selects and buys the books according to local needs ; registers and creates
documentation of the whole process and the results achieved with the children.
Fourty four institutions took part in the selective process. Among those, 10 were chosen
to receive the library: 2 in Brasilia and 8 in Sao Paulo. Fourteen community teachers went
through a 44 hour training program. The first 10 libraries received 4,000 books directly
benefiting 2,500 children and adolescents.
The first 10 "libraries" were implanted and are open to the community. They
attend institutions that look after street children from slums in the outskirts, children
living in tenements downtown, children living in shelters (who have no parents or are
temporarily separated from them) and children from poor homing project community center
(previous construction camp) as in case of Vila Planalto in Brasilia, Brazil's capital.
20,000 CHILDREN'S READERS
The "Living Library" Project is based on the idea that reading and writing
are meaningful only when they become means for children to learn more about their reality
and to change their lives and their environment.
The Project will affect decisively these children as it changes their relationship with
formal schooling and fills the gap between children who come from literate families and
those comimg from homes deprived of contact with books or written materials.It will teach
them not only to read and to value books but also to read their environment, to look at
their reality using concepts they can obtain from books with the community teachers' help.
The project affects community teachers' in many ways: they are trained and given new
knowledge for working with children, using books as a tool for educational purposes. They
are led to understand how books change people and reality itself.They learn to introduce
new subjects to discuss with which to teach children and impart knowledge needed for
success in elementary school. Finaly,they learn new concepts about the social meaning of
literacy in poor communities and they can enhance literacy learning by linking writing
instruction to the culture of the community as well as to the functions served by writing
in the community.
The Project consolidate and reinforce an effective model for immediate action to revert
the perverse social scene found in third world big cities. This model brings together
entrepreneurs, big companies and the civil society in partnership sponsored by Abrinq
Foundation for the Children's Rights fostering the exchange between those who want to
participate and those who need help.
Av. Paulista, 1111
(5511) 576 2004
Fund. Abrinq Pelos Direitos da Crianaa, Sao Paulo
Abrinq Foundation for Children's Rights
Rua Alberto De Faria, 473
(55 11) 814-9500
Rua Alberto de Fario, 473
(5511) 814 9500
Wilheim, Ana Maria
RUA ALBERTO DE FARIA, 473
(5511) 814 9500
Goldenstein, Marlene Seica
Rua Alberto de Faria 473
(55-11) 814 9500