Students’ book drive aims to promote literacy in Spanish-speaking countries

By Hayley Gorman

One book can change the life of a child.
In Latin American countries there aren’t
nearly enough children’s books. McClintock
High School is helping promote literacy
in such countries by collecting money for
a non profit charity, Books for a Better
World.
“Our goal is to promote literacy by
distributing books,” President Alice Finn
Gartell said.
Books for a Better World works to
improve conditions in rural communities
of developing nations by establishing
literacy. Many of the children in these
countries haven’t seen a book that was not
a textbook, Gartell said.
Books for a Better World has extended
its reach to Honduras, Guatemala,
Nicaragua, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, El
Salvador and Mexico.
Last year, Books for a Better World was
able to contribute to 100 schools in Mexico
and Central American countries.
“My favorite part of Books for a Better
World is buying the books. I have the
nickname “La Reina de los Libros” or
“Queen of the Books,” said Gartell, noting
that she has a knack for recognizing a
bargain when she sees it.
“In these countries they have little
contact with books, and when the children
see the wonderful pictures and books on
topics they find interesting, it’s great.”
Gartell has been donating books to
Spanish-language libraries since 1999.
“I got involved with donating books
kind of by accident,” she says “I was in
Akimal, Mexico, and I went to a local
library, because I had run out of the books
to read.
“At the library, they had less than 50
children books for 500 children in the
village. My husband and I sent down
books.”
Later, Gartell said, she became
acquainted with Kae Robb, who is the
organization’s founder. Kae’s daughter was
in the Peace Corps in Guatemala and she
noticed that children needed books. When
Kae died she asked Gartell to carry on
Books for a Better World.
Now she says, the group goes to 100
places with 50 to 60 books each time.
McClintock High School’s National
Spanish Honor Society has participated
in collecting money for Books for a Better
World since 2013.
“Last year we collected just over $600
in coins. That goes to purchase and ship
120 children’s books to Central America,”
National Spanish Honor Society Advisor
Catharyn Crane said.
The club members collect money by
carrying around plastic water bottles in
which to place donations.
Said Morgan Jernigan, president of
the National Spanish Honor Society at
McClintock:
“I feel that every little bit helps, no
matter how small the act. Our club may
not make a huge difference globally, but we
can definitely make a difference in our own
community.”
To donate to Books for a Better World,
visit www.booksforabetterworld.org.
Also, Books for a Better World is
always looking for volunteers to help with
organizing and packing its donations.

Hayley Gorman is a junior at
McClintock High School who plans to
attend Arizona State University as a
journalism-business major.

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