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Why it’s important to spark the joy of reading in Paraguay

POSTED September 8, 2022

Why it’s important to spark the joy of reading in Paraguay

Find out about the power of literacy in changing family dynamics and mindsets

By Rosanna Menchaca, communications manager, Paraguay, with files from Karen Nuñez, Global Infancia

A man reads to a small boy, showing the success of the Children Beleive project to promote reading in Paraguay

Parents in our Paraguay program value education, but it’s not always easy to connect their young children in rural communities with teachers so they can begin learning. So, when we introduce a literacy program in the country, the buzz is palpable. 

This time, in eight months, 512 children developed literacy and social skills — such as vocabulary and basic words to express themselves — with the help of 15 teachers.

The project built excitement among families. “I learned about the importance of playing with our children,” shares Shirley, mother to four-year-old Abigail. “We don’t need expensive books or expensive toys, because we have materials to make them at home. We can even tell stories to our children using our imagination.”

Families like Shirley’s were part of what we call “emergent literacy.” This process involves several strategies — such as storytelling, singing with hand and finger puppets as well as setting specific reading times — to spark positive learning habits by the time kids are old enough to go to school.

Parents introduced new words to their kids through stories and riddles; they discovered how reading at home improves language development, comprehension and speech awareness. At the same time, their skills improved as they monitored their child’s growth.

Deisy, mom to Yerutí, 4, sees a difference in her family since the project ended. “We’ve learned to negotiate and find ways for our children to understand ideas without imposing things, like the old way,” she says, alluding to a common practice of ordering children to complete a task.

This is a key learning in a culture where corporal punishment is often considered the best way to teach children.

Beyond training, families received education kits with sensory books, books by national authors, puppets and more.

The kits have been popular in Shirley’s house where her husband is getting involved in raising their daughter. “I tell him all I learn so he can sit down with [our daughter] and tell stories; he even went to some of the workshops to learn how we can help,” she says.

A boy in peers into a reading kit box he and his mom are being given as part of a project to promote reading in Paraguay

Deisy’s daughter enjoys the resources provided, too. “She normally grabs her book, and it’s funny because at first, she refers to the story, but then, she continues according to what her imagination dictates,” says the proud mom.

But, Children Believe’s literacy work doesn’t end in the home. We’re also connected with five schools, providing kits, tablets and digital books as well as teaching our learning methodology so it can be applied in pre-school classes and informal education spaces.

“With the training, teachers can learn what emergent reading is — not just telling a story — but knowing the evolutionary and emotional development of children, knowing each stage and that each child learns differently,” explains Adriana Mayeregger, who works with our local partner in early childhood development.

Many educators endorse the program: “It is a new way of learning. It’s a playful, creative way for children to explore and acquire knowledge, not only by looking at letters and listening to traditional tales,” highlights Silvia Rolón, a teacher from a school we support.

José Chih-Cheng Han, Taiwan ambassador to Paraguay, was delighted Taiwan could contribute through one of our partners, Taiwan Fund for Children and Families. “That is why we make alliances with organizations that have a lot of experience in the field, that know the needs and know how to implement (projects),” he said.

The families are grateful government, teachers and donors have supported them. “I want to thank you for giving the children and us, as mothers, the opportunity to participate in these workshops. It is really helping many families. Thanks to the teachers for being patient with us mothers who are learning with our children, because it is not easy,” shared Shirley at the project’s conclusion.

Learn more about our work to build communities, promote human rights and connect children and youth to change in Paraguay.

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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.

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