Books for a Better World is a 501(c)(3) and a Guide Star Certified nonprofit. BBW partners with schools in our host countries to create libraries or to add to existing library collections in rural areas. Language development and vocabulary building are emphasized through the use of the charming, imaginative stories and legends from all parts of the world.
BBW buys and delivers new books to schools that are often in remote locations where reliable mail or courier service is not yet available. We send volunteers with the books to ensure delivery as well as to engage the students who receive them.
In the most rural areas of these countries, less than 25% of the population completes 6th grade. In some villages, fewer than half of the students continue beyond the third grade. There are many reasons for this. One is that life in rural areas is labor intensive. Children have many chores to do at home and in the field. Most of the parents are laborers who see little value in education, and in most schools the day is dull and uninspiring. Although the government provides workbooks in mathematics, science, social studies, and Spanish language, there is no literature. There are no storybooks, no legends and no poetry. The school day, which is only four hours long, is filled with memorizing and reciting facts. There is little to inspire creativity, to encourage thinking or to expand one’s awareness of the world. We seek to change that!
• To cultivate a love of learning
• To create the habit of reading
• To increase self-esteem
• To increase language skills, both oral comprehension and speaking ability
• To open the world for young students through the magic of literature
• To inspire imagination through the beauty of language and illustrations
• To cultivate humor and a sense of well being as one learns to laugh at oneself and with others
Books for a Better World selects high quality books that appeal to children who have little or no experience with children’s literature. Most of them do not know that reading can be fun until BBW volunteers come to their school and read aloud with them. The children are so excited when they see the new books! Often, we have to carefully maintain order in the classroom because so many children want to be the first one to read the dinosaur book or fairytale. Most importantly, every book must meet the “smile” test and be designed to make a child smile!
• Language: BBW delivers books in Spanish, the primary language of the countries served. A few bilingual Spanish/English books are included in each collection.
• Reading level: Most BBW books are kindergarten – 4th grade reading level. Each collection contains a few more difficult books for advanced readers in middle and high schools. Many books are high interest/low reading level so that children of different ages and reading levels will enjoy them. We encourage the older students to read the “easy” books to the younger students.
• Presentation: Delightful, captivating, and educational! BBW seeks books with colorful illustrations and on topics of great interest to children. BBW seeks books that encourage imagination, creativity, respect for others, and education.
• Culturally appropriate: BBW seeks to provide books that are relevant to the culture and environment.
• Paperback: Most BBW books are paperbacks, due to cost and weight considerations.
Each year’s book collection usually contains the following:
1. Silly rhymes and fun activities, such as Dr. Seuss, tongue twisters, and riddles
2. Classic fairytales, such as Cinderella and Pinocchio
3. Counting books and ABC books
4. An inspirational biography
5. A book about a favorite sport or sports hero
6. Anything about dinosaurs (very popular!)
7. Nursery rhymes and simple songbooks
8. Classic children’s literature, such as Charlotte’s Web
9. A mystery or science fiction book for the older children
10. Books about animals, real and imaginary.
How We Began
Books for a Better World (BBW) was founded in 2000 by Kae Robb, a former middle school Spanish teacher from Phoenix Arizona. With the help of several eager volunteers, Kae began to deliver books to Guatemala…one backpack at a time. She was determined, enthusiastic and extremely optimistic—characteristics that proved her well! Only just a few short years later, the number of schools BBW served jumped from a handful in Guatemala to nearly 40 in and around Mexico, Central and South America. In 2012, BBW is on track to deliver over 5,000 books to 70 – 75 libraries in Panama, Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala!
Click PLAY below to listen to an interview with BBW President Alice Gartell.