July 2012

Gaby Vallejo Canedo

By creating an enjoyable learning atmosphere, children’s interest in reading becomes enhanced to a point where they gain confidence, not only in themselves but in life as well. shiho Koyama enlightens us on how Gaby vallejo canedo, a children’s book writer and librarian at th’urchapitas library in cochabamba, helps children gain that confidence.

By: Shiho Koyama
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Osaka – Japan

Gaby Vallejo Canedo in Th’urchapitas library
Photo: Shiho Koyama

Books are the doorway to the wider world. Not only can they help with children´s academic performances, they can also be a tool to build their self- confidence. Gaby Vallejo Canedo has been opening the door to children for years by helping them to read. She has a magic touch that can capture a child’s ambition and she is more than happy to share her ideas with you.

Simple words that Gaby often uses to help children express themselves are: ‘Muy bien’ ’Qué lindo’, and ‘Me gusta’.

This allows them to shine with confidence. Each time they read, she responds with joyful sighs and laughter, spreading warmth throughout the library. When interacting with the children, gives them her full attention, providing positive feedback and frequent praise. “Children feel good about themselves and recognize their worth if others listen to their opinions” she explains. “This experience has a significant impact on their way of thinking, along with their social and academic skills.” In addition to her vast knowledge of children’s books, Gaby is a consummate master at finding the good side and believing in possibilities. These characteristics allow her to put a smile on children’s faces as if by magic. One of Gaby´s passions, she holds reading sessions every Tuesday at Th’urchapitas library with up to 10 school-aged children (6 to 12 years old) in attendance each time. She structures these based on her philosophy about books. “A book is a vehicle for imagining, gaining knowledge, asking questions, and sharing”, Gaby says.

“A book is a vehicle for imagining, gaining knowledge, asking questions, and sharing.”

“A book has the ability to enrich our lives.” This philosophy stems from her favorite quote: “the art of life makes your life a work of art”. Books have enriched her life by providing her with opportunities to work with many wonderful people from all over the world such as the collaboration project with the Appalachian State University in the U.S. and with other Japanese companies. Therefore, she wants children to recognize the enjoyment and value of reading books. At the reading session I attended, Gaby read a book in front of a group of children. It started with an overview of the text and then continued on with the story. Between moments of reading she asked the children questions about characters, facts and the author: “What will happen next?” and “Where is he going?” Children answered freely and continued to develop their ideas as Gaby asked the questions. This thinking and imagining aroused their curiosity about unknown worlds. While some children enjoy expressing their opinions, others are unaccustomed to that. For the latter, “questions that are easy for them to answer are a good way to make them comfortable,” said Gaby.

Children during a reading session
Photo: Shiho Koyama

After reading one book together as a group, it was time for the children to introduce the book to others. “Talking to other people allows them to remember what they thought and realize their sense of value.” Furthermore, this time was full of opportunities to share and connect with others. “This is to assist children in recognizing differences, as well as similarities, among all people,” smiled Gaby. In other words, children learn that people can be different while sharing enjoyment in the same things.

Gaby is good at creating an environment that allows for individual growth. The door is always open to visitors as well as local children. One example of such a person is myself; she gave me an opportunity to read Japanese books in both Japanese and Spanish. Although reading in Spanish was not easy, I was impressed by the help I received from the children, just as Gaby had helped them.

According to Gaby, you can still convey a book´s original message to children, even while feeling nervous. “A book has many types of messages, depending on the person who reads the book, the message can be changed. By sharing your interpretation with others, you can convey different messages,” smiled

Gaby. In other words, reading a book more passionately to children will prove much more beneficial. Moreover, the most important thing to do when beginning to read a book with children is to create an enjoyable atmosphere. Through such enjoyment, you can play an important role in giving children an experience that will make them shine. By helping children to become more confident, reading will allow for them to feel better about their ability to do more things. The more enjoyable the things they read, the more they will learn skills which lead to a happy and productive life. With Gaby’s advice, enjoy reading a book with children!

The Medallion
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