Bridging the Literary Gap

Addressing Children’s Literacy in Colombia

by Delia Visbal

In a world where knowledge is power, the ability to read opens doors to endless opportunities. In Colombia, however, a significant portion of children face barriers to accessing the literary world that many take for granted. As we delve into the issue of literacy in Colombian children, it’s imperative to compare their access to books and reading materials with their counterparts, such as American children.


According to “Kids & Family Reading Report”, a notable study that provides insight into the reading habits of American children, conducted by Scholastic, the average American child reads about 12 books a year. This statistic paints a stark contrast when compared to the reality for many Colombian children, where access to books is limited. On average, Colombian children read around 3.9 books a year, according to DANE’s 2020 National Reading Survey (DANE).


One of the primary reasons for this disparity is the affordability of books. In Colombia, where many families struggle to make ends meet, purchasing books often takes a backseat to fulfilling basic needs. The result is that children miss out on the joys and benefits of reading, which extends far beyond mere entertainment.


Moreover, the lack of infrastructure exacerbates the issue. While urban areas may boast a few libraries, rural and small-town communities are often left underserved. Families residing in these areas face the challenge of accessing libraries that may be located far away, with limited transportation options available. In many cases, especially in remote regions, poor families rely on donkeys as their primary mode of transportation, making the journey to a library virtually impossible.


Consequently, children in these areas are further isolated from the literary world, hindering the development of a culture of reading within their communities. For many impoverished families, books are perceived as a luxury, not a necessity, further perpetuating the cycle of illiteracy and limited educational opportunities.

So, what can be done to address this pressing issue and empower Colombian children with the gift of literacy?

Firstly, there’s a need for concerted efforts from both the government and civil society to make books more accessible. Initiatives aimed at subsidizing books or establishing community libraries in underserved areas can play a pivotal role in bridging the gap.

Secondly, fostering a culture of reading is crucial. Parents and educators must recognize the importance of instilling a love for reading from an early age. By incorporating reading into daily routines and providing children with access to diverse reading materials, we can cultivate a lifelong habit of learning and exploration.

Additionally, leveraging technology can serve as a valuable tool in promoting literacy. Digital libraries and e-books offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional printed books, making reading more accessible to a wider audience.

Furthermore, partnerships between government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private sector entities can amplify efforts to promote literacy. By pooling resources and expertise, we can implement comprehensive literacy programs that reach every corner of the country.

Ultimately, addressing the lack of literacy in Colombian children requires a multifaceted approach that tackles issues of affordability, accessibility, and cultural attitudes towards reading. By investing in the next generation’s education, we not only empower individual children but also pave the way for a brighter future for Colombia as a whole. Together, let’s turn the page on illiteracy and write a new chapter of opportunity and growth for all Colombian children.

Simply gifting a book to Colombian children in need can make a big impact in their lives by highlighting the transformative power of literature and underscoring the importance of promoting literacy initiatives in disadvantaged communities.

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