Guatemalan teen dreams of making school library favorite place for kids

Claudia is a sponsored youth and scholar from Guatemala. She volunteers at a local school library for her scholarship service hours.

Claudia is a sponsored youth and scholar from Guatemala. She volunteers at a local school library for her scholarship service hours.

National Library Week in the U.S. is April 13-19. People across the country are celebrating by visiting libraries, participating in events and sharing how libraries have changed their lives.
To join in the celebration, we would like to share the story of Claudia, a sponsored teen from Guatemala. Claudia volunteers at a local school library and works with the children there to help them become more engaged in reading.

By Jordan Kimbrell, Unbound writer/editor

Claudia fell in love with reading when she was in first grade. The stories of “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Three Little Pigs” introduced her to the joys of books.

Today the 17-year-old enjoys a wide range of topics. Claudia particularly likes reading books related to topics teenagers face on a daily basis, such as books on technology, relationships and other topics.

She still delves into the pages of her old favorites, though, especially in her role as a library volunteer.

Claudia has been sponsored through Unbound since 2005. Three years ago she was also granted an Unbound scholarship to help her pursue higher education. As a scholar, Claudia is expected to complete service hours. She chose to do this by volunteering at a local school library.

In order to become a library volunteer, Claudia had to meet with the heads of the library.

“When I talked to the library authorities for their consent, they said, ‘Do you think you can handle kids?’” Claudia shared. “I hid my nervousness with a smile and said, ‘Sure I can.’ I was thrilled when they called to say that they had approved my request.”

Each day Claudia works at the library from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. During her school vacations, she sometimes stays the whole day.

Claudia started by shelving books, cleaning tables and shelves and sweeping. As she got to know the workings of the library better, she was given more responsibilities. Eventually she was able to do what she loves best: working with the kids.

“I want the library to be the kids’ favorite place,” Claudia said. “I want them to run to the library during recess time. I want the library to be fun. I want kids to crave books. My wish is to open their minds.”

To reach these goals, Claudia works hard to make the library a fun, engaging space for the children to visit. She reads to them, plays games and tells stories using puppets. She even offers additional tutoring in math.

But the best invitation Claudia can offer is her bright smile. It reveals how much she loves sharing books with others, but even more how much she loves the kids she has the chance to encourage.

“I want them to find joy in reading,” Claudia said. “Reading gives them knowledge; knowledge can open doors.”

Want to help inspiring teens like Claudia? Donate to the Scholarship Fund today!

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