Illiteracy affects 31 million people in Mexico which amounts to a quarter of the population. What is of particular concern is the high levels of illiteracy amongst primary school children, as it can have a profound effect on their lives and their future. Not only does it harm the opportunities made available to them as they grow, but it also robs them of the chance to develop a love of reading and literature.
Our work at The SHM Foundation in understanding this challenge in Mexico highlighted that there are a number of barriers to improving literacy levels for primary school children. Firstly, there is often a lack of books available in schools and they are usually poorly suited in helping children to learn to read and understand. Secondly, the books are often uninspiring as there isn’t a diversity in topics and storytelling. Thirdly, there is a lack of support to guide and teach young children in learning how to read.
The Me Late Leer programme looks to address these challenges, with an aim to cultivate a love of reading in primary school children across Mexico City.
In 2016, we worked with over 200 students between the ages of 6 and 10 years old – we ran ‘inspiration events’ in their schools, which involved inviting children’s authors to present their books to the children and their teachers. At the end of each event, a selection of books were provided to the schools so that the students could have access to them.
To celebrate World Book and Copyright Day in the same year, we built a library to provide a comfortable reading space for children and give them access to a wide range of children’s books from a range of Mexican authors.
In 2018, we are planning to run a series of creative workshops with children to teach them the process involved in creating their own book and we hope to continue to provide more ‘inspiration events’ throughout the year.
This project is generously funded by Corazón, a new Mexican restaurant based in Central London – £1 of every purchase of their ice cream sundae goes towards funding this project!