About 4 years ago, my family and I took a trip to Brazil in order to visit relatives. While there, I visited a local public "daycare" in order to donate various toys and goods that we had collected. For those of you who may not know, in Brazil and other countries the government funds for public daycares to take care of children whose working parents have no means to take care of them during the daytime. When I arrived, I expected to see a simple center, one with small children running around carelessly playing and reading. What I saw was completely different. The kids, varying in age but mostly around 3-5 years old looked very worn out and tired, playing with the limited amount of toys that they had available.
When a child reaches the age of 6, they are no longer allowed to go to the daycare and thus begin to attend a local elementary school. The kids from this daycare and thousands of others from all over Brazil, lacking the foundation of reading and concepts learned from books, enter the education system unprepared, falling behind many other children. Already behind as a young child entering the system, many of the children are required to repeat grade levels causing an increase in the likelihood of poor future educational performance and dropout rates. A study conducted by the EFA/PRELAC found that the rate for repetition in elementary school grade levels in Brazil is 24.5%, most children coming from areas of poverty. You see, a problem as simple as a lack of books in a daycare, can lead to a very bright child to losing hold of a promising future, continuing through the path of poverty and violence that prevails in the favelas and poor suburbs in Brazil.
From this issue, the organization Books for a Change was created.
Books for a Change is a program dedicated to donating bookshelves to daycare's throughout Brazil and various developing countries in order to increase literacy and education. By allowing the children in these areas access to books, we are giving them a chance to get out
of poverty and into a new life.
We send bookshelves consisting of at least 10 books per age group to daycare's around Brazil and Latin America. The shelves, which are made up of simple, portable material, make it easy for the children to safely take books. The books that we send will be considered the most beneficial for the education of young children, allowing for a greater impact. Our hope is that if the love of reading is instilled within the kids at a very young age, it will follow them throughout their entire lives, allowing for success in school as well as a bright future.
The age groups that we currently cater to are 0-3 and 3-6. Each separate age group has an equal number of books, selected by us based on the educational content and context. As the children grow, they will have a different set of books that are meant for them, granting a greater interest in literature.