Bon Nochi Drumi Dushi
The joy of reading is infinite
Ever since I was a young girl reading was my favorite hobby, and as a teacher I shared this passion with my students. Seeing those eyes, wide open with curiosity and awe has been very rewarding and clear evidence that they too were basking in those moments as much as I did when I was their age. Part of what inspires me to write my own stories, is sharing the love for reading with as many children as possible in our community. This is why I picked "The Pleasure of Reading and its Benefits" as the topic for my thesis, and that demanded hours and hours of research and staying up late and making sure I knew exactly what I was talking about scientifically, not only what I already knew in my heart. The “circle of reading” theory by English author Aidan Chambers has been crucial in this process. My research was focused on children in the last two years in primary school and more specifically the role that parents play in their reading habits. My thesis title was “Bon Nochi Drumi Dushi” (Good Night Sleep Tight).
From thesis to bedtime
I did extensive documentation research for my thesis because I wanted to have enough knowledge on the topic to be able to put this into practice in the most responsible way.
As it turned out, I started what would eventually become the reading promotion project we know today as Bon Nochi Drumi Dushi. To test the theoretic principle of Chambers: choose a book (preference), read (make time to read) and react (discuss what has been read), I chose a candidate household that fit the requirements, and a book - the first of my "Bencho" series - and off I went. We sat under a tree, in their backyard, and I read the story about the adventures of a local boy to those kids, who were about the same age as the book character. I will never forget the expression on the children’s faces and consequently their parents’. It further increased my drive to share the pleasure reading stories brings. With the help of a friend we visited four more homes. The year was 2007.
After these first visits things escalated quickly. In 2008 these first experiences inspired 18 like-minded reading enthusiasts to sign up as volunteers and we managed to visit 144 homes during the first official “reading at home” promotion program.
The lack of funds didn’t stop us. The trunks of our cars were filled with books and material we collected and we set out to visit addresses of people in neighborhoods that managed to sign up through word of mouth propaganda. The Biblioteca Nacional offered a platform to perform a variety of activities within our project. The Minister of Education Michelle Hooyboer Winklaar, responsible for the Biblioteca Nacional, wholeheartedly supported the project goals by allocating a space where we were able to work and professionalize our activities and the project in a more efficient manner. As a young mother she saw the value of our project and joined us as a volunteer in our Reading at Home program. Her tangible support has proven invaluable, as our “headquarters” are the beating heart of many of our activities and programs. In 2009 what was once a project, became a foundation.
Growth and diversification
From the start of our project we have been aware that the book has steadfast competition with the new media and technology, which are part of the daily reality of the children we aimed our project at. We have taken this reality and incorporated it into the project. We started with 3 products in our project: the Reading at Home program, A TV program and a DVD series. Storytelling has been the focal point in all three products. A lot of effort has been put in producing colorful and appealing material to capture the attention of our target group.
To hold their attention we have diversified the principle of storytelling in other products and activities such as a bus tour of storytelling, a Reading Festival, A Reading Quiz, Live Storytelling Theatre “Tanto Cuenta” and Mobile Library.
After 11 years of the Bon Nochi Drumi Dushi Reading Promotion Project we were able to do extensive evaluation of our work so far. We deemed the time ripe to focus on active participation of our target group in the process of the pleasure of reading. In our latest projects, “Story Superheroes” and “Book Ambassadors” children from different age target groups are encouraged to take ownership of their pleasure of reading.