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  • Writer's picturetimothy martiny

Cultivating a Love for Reading: How Cadaniño Empowers Young Minds

Evidence has shown that reading well profoundly impacts a child's education, enhancing academic achievement, cognitive development, and emotional and social skills. Early literacy skills are crucial, with third-grade proficiency linked to higher graduation rates and better performance on standardized tests. Reading extensively enriches vocabulary, comprehension, critical thinking, and memory while fostering empathy, communication skills, and a lifelong love of learning.


Data from organizations like the National Institute for Literacy and the Annie E. Casey Foundation highlight that proficient readers are more likely to succeed academically and socially, pursue higher education, and secure better career opportunities. Thus, promoting reading early can positively affect a child's overall development and future success.


Yet children in developing countries like Guatemala face numerous challenges developing good reading skills due to socio-economic, educational, and infrastructural barriers. With underfunded schools that don't assign reading lessons, no meaningful access to public libraries, parents who are illiterate or unaware of the importance of reading, and economic pressures forcing children to drop out of school to support their families, it's hard for many to students to understand, much less develop, a love of reading.


That is why programs like Cadaniño’s reading initiative are crucial. Teachers in our after-school programs create a reading culture and empower children to develop essential literacy skills to help them succeed in school and thrive in their learning journey.

 

Eduardo Lux, Coordinador Santa Fe

"Our reading program emerged during the pandemic lockdown. We saw the need to strengthen our students' cognitive abilities. With the schools closed and students at home all day, we knew their time would be better spent improving their reading skills.


Guatemala does not have a culture of reading, so first we spoke to the parents and explained how vital it was for their students to excel in this area and how we needed their help and cooperation to succeed.


Our teachers evaluated students' reading abilities and selected reading lessons appropriate for their level. When students completed their reading, they filled out a questionnaire, which the parents turned in every week.


Little by little, a culture of reading was formed among the students. We decided to continue with the "at-home" reading program when the lockdown ended.


Our teenagers read books, and children read short readings suitable for their age. The progress was significant; both parents and children were responsible.


We have seen that students' reading abilities improve, and they better understand their homework and schoolwork, improving their overall grades. This makes them believe they can do better in school and in life, and it helps them build confidence. We have seen students become more expressive in their communication, which has also helped them learn responsibility.


Children seem more enthusiastic about participating in class, more expressive when communicating, and above all, they are responsible.


Without a doubt, reading in Cadaniño has strengthened the weak areas in reading comprehension and critical thinking that children face in schools.


We continue to see long-term results from this program, and I think it plays a big role in 30% of our students in Santa Fe obtaining first place in their class at school last year.


I am thrilled to see that a habit of reading has been formed in the lives of the Cadaniño students.”


By Sucely Jiménez, Reading Teacher, Santa Fe

"We know that reading is an essential element to strengthen the education of our children and youth. At Cadaniño, we aim to make reading a habit and not an obligation because there is nothing better than enjoying free and enriching reading.


In our students, it has been satisfying to observe how the reading program has helped them progress in many areas. I have seen notable progress in their comprehension, writing, and speaking skills.


It is increasingly wonderful to see that many of our students have developed a love for reading and are doing much more than required. I see them expanding their imagination and discovering a world they didn't know existed.


Even though the journey to creating an effective reading program hasn't always been easy, I can see its impact on their lives, and I know it will open pathways to success.”

 

Lilian Chete, Coordinator, San Jose Pinula

"It has been amazing to see how God is using the reading program in the students' lives and what a blessing it has been to each of them. I am satisfied to see the progress made and the increasing number of books students read.


In 2020, when we first started the reading program during the pandemic, our students read about 415 books a year. With time, as more and more of them began to develop a love of learning, the number of books read increased.


In 2022, the students at our center read 797 books, 953 books in 2023, and 669 books in 2024, halfway through, putting us on track for our best year yet.


It's been wonderful to see how the students' formation of reading habits also impacts their parents. We currently have 15 parents involved in reading a book every month.


It's interesting to see how students’ progress in their mental capacity and expand their knowledge with different ideas and concepts. We have seen improvements in their spelling, writing, and critical thinking, imagination, creativity, and empathy as they experience stories from the main character's perspective.


We have heard testimonials from students who mention that reading is now their favorite hobby. Parents are also getting involved in reading with their children. Some students are even saving up or have already bought their own books. Nataly, one of our students, asked her parents to take her to buy a book with her savings. Initially, her mother did not understand why she wanted to spend her money on a book, but now she is thrilled to see her daughter's passion for reading.


I am amazed at what God is doing in the students' lives through each program and how new students are eager to enter the world of reading. Seeing the progress made and the increasing number of books read fills me with satisfaction. I am confident that every participating student will continue to improve.


I am so grateful to be a part of a ministry committed to providing essential tools for each student's development."

 

Susan Pérez, Teacher, San Jose Pinula

"Our reading program is divided into "Lecturitas" with 42 students and "Book Club" with 76 students. "Lecturitas" is focused on children who need to reinforce reading time and comprehension at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Each week, they read and complete exercises related to the reading. Based on their progress in reading and writing skills, the students advance to the next level until they reach the Book Club.


In the Book Club, the students read a book at home. After finishing, they present a book summary, including the most essential details, characters, the author, and a drawing representing the book. It is interesting to observe the students' creativity in their summaries and the information they provide about the book during the reading checks I perform.


While the students read at different speeds, they read an average of 45 books weekly at our center. I have seen how this enhances their imagination, creativity, spelling, and writing and helps create a habit of responsibility in each of them.


I ask for prayers for each child and youth I work with, that God gives them wisdom and understanding in their studies and that they will be examples of God's love to their peers and neighbors."


 As you can see, the reading initiatives we have implemented with our students at Cadaniño are creating strong reading skills that profoundly impact their academic achievement, cognitive development, and social-emotional skills. These skills empower them to succeed not just academically but also spiritually, as they are better able to read and understand the Bible and foster a deeper personal relationship with their Heavenly Father.

 

Sincerely, Timothy Martiny, President, Cadaniño

 


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