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Mission of Literacy

January 25, 2018

I am at home recovering from yet another surgery on my left leg following the accident that injured my leg and brain in October 2016. Due to my injuries, I haven’t been able to read like I use to. The hit on my head impacted my ability to focus; it stole my greatest pleasure…reading. I am taking baby steps in building up my attention span and my ability to read and remember the story.
My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson captured my attention right away. Front CoverI couldn’t put it down. It’s a children’s historical fiction title that can be enjoyed by all ages. The story takes place in Cuba in 1961. Then Prime Minister Fidel Castro had a mission to create an illiterate-free country in 12 months. A volunteer brigade was formed to teach the farmers and their families how to read and write. The story follows 13-year-old volunteer, Lora, as she joins the army of teachers and ventures outside her privileged life in the city of Havana.
For one year she would live with a family in the country; working side by side with them by daylight and teaching them to read and write by lamplight at night. Lora gives her students a new life. Literacy helps open the doors of opportunity. All who participated in this mission are forever changed by the intimate exchange of lives and lifestyles.
This story is based on the historical events in 1960 when Fidel Castro announced his plan, to the United Nations, to educate the entire population of Cuba. By 1961 more than 700,000 Cubans had learned to read and write. In one year the literacy rate in Cuba went from 60% to 96%, earning Cuba the title of illiterate-free nation. This is an inspiring story of the value of literacy and the joy of teaching. May it inspire all of us who love to read to help improve our own country’s literacy rates.

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