‘Cellular librarians’ assist join APS college students with different cultures
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Albuquerque Public Schools bus drivers have temporarily evolved into mobile librarians for the free book giveaway on the district bus. Previously, students in the bilingual program could select books from their schools to take home. Since the schools are closed, APS makes the mobile library available to every interested student.
Rachel Altobelli, director of library services, and Jessica Villalobos from the Language and Cultural Justice Department came up with the idea that their departments should work with the Transportation Department on this project. “We know that families and students sometimes prefer to read a paper book, so we wanted to keep sharing that with our students,” Altobelli said. “We want all of our students to have books that reflect them and their language, their culture and their beautiful selves.”
More than just an after school program: Española plans to expand
At least three buses drive through the district to different schools and deliver a bag with books and school supplies. The books range from English and Spanish. “It’s really about justice. If you look at APS and the people we serve, these children come from many different backgrounds and we are probably one of the most diverse counties in the country, ”said Villalobos. “When children speak another language, we really need to validate their language and culture.”
Former APS student Alexandra Jaquez said this program revived her love of reading. “I could see myself through these books that I normally wouldn’t see myself in. You don’t feel alone in your situation. They feel like other people are fighting like you. “Said Jaquez. “It also helps you see outside of your own needs and see that the story has other sides.”
The books selected are the result of research based on reviews, award lists, popularity, teacher perspectives, and diversity. Venessa Urioste is the teacher for educators at the Atrisco Heritage Academy. The course is a teacher program for high school graduates interested in a career in education. The class is currently researching the impact culturally relevant books can have on students and has even asked for copies of the books elementary school students receive.
2 APS juniors receive a prestigious JROTC scholarship from the Air Force
Urioste said the lack of representation can have an impact on students who don’t see their heritage or community in the books they read. “There are less than 10% of children’s books that have a main color character. There are more animals in children’s books than children of color, ”said Urioste.
Altobelli and Villalobos said it makes sense to open the book giveaway to all interested students as they are all learning virtually. “There’s nothing like having your own physical book, especially now that you have to study online. We hope that as a result, they won’t be able to look at a screen all day, ”said Altobelli.