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Education Worldwide

The Banco de Libro in Venezuela

Av. Luis Roche, Altamira Sur, Edificio Banco de Libro


Venezuela’s Banco del Libro is a non-profit organization which devotes itself not only to the promotion of reading among children and adolescents, but also to research, the publication of books and educational programs for children’s and young adults’ literature. The organization served as a standard model for Fundalectura in Colombia and the Germán Sánchez Ruipérez Foundation in Spain. However, the whole range of activities takes place not only in Venezuela, but also to a certain extent, throughout Latin America.

The name Banco del Libro points to the origins of the Caracas-based institution: it was founded in 1960 as a centre for the exchange of school-books. Through the years and decades more and more tasks and activities have been incorporated. For instance, Banco del Libro evaluates and recommends the best Spanish language books and reading materials for children and adolescents. The organization has now become an important reference point for publishers, authors and illustrators. A special course for authors and illustrators of children's books was even developed  in cooperation with the help of the IBBY Yamada Fund in 2011.

The training of mediators and promoters of literacy is also a central task of the Banco del Libro. Since 2008, an MA in Children’s and Young Adults’ Literature has been available. This is the result of collaboration with the Universidad Autónoma of Barçelona (Spain). Students have the possibility of financing their studies with the Astrid Lindgren scholarship. Similarly, a course for mediators and promoters of literacy is currently being developed in conjunction with the Sao Paolo University in Brazil.

In addition, Banco del Libro researches and publishes literature on topics such as picture books, strategies for citizenship or working with non-fictional materials. In this regard, the organization has established a documentation center that serves students, lecturers and researchers in the field of children’s and young adults’ literature.

For Banco del Libro, its work in the social realm is an equally important aspect. For instance, the Leer para Vivir project is worth mentioning here. This initiative came into existence in Venezuela within the scope of a book therapy - healing with reading materials such as adventure books, fables and poems - to give affected people in refugee camps a means of better coping with the effects of recent floods and landslides. The project was a model for similar activities in Colombia and El Salvador, and for reconstruction projects in Asia after the tsunami.

Another example of the work in the social sphere is the Cuentos entre amigos project. In this project, children and story-tellers meet in the slums of the Venezuelan capital. Selected texts from Latin American publishing houses are read, with the purpose of generating dialog, discussion and opportunities for self-advancement on topics such as identity, friendship, solidarity and tolerance. This could be done through travel literature for example, which highlights the diverse regions of the world and differences between cultures.

Banco del Libro is a non-government organization. Projects are financed with support from the Venezuelan state, and also through organizations and sources such as the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives. The Banco del Libro has been recognized on several occasions for its work; for instance the Banco del Libro together with two other action groups, won the UNESCO-Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum education prize in 2012 and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2007.

(Image: Guillermo Ramos Flamerich with a GNU Free Documentation License from Wikimedia Commons)