This story comes from Olaewa Elementary School, one of the school partners of Taman Bacaan Pelangi for the child-friendly library program in Boawae District, Nagekeo Regency, East Nusa Tenggara. This inspirational teacher is named Maria Goreti Deru, usually called Mrs. Ati. Mrs. Ati, who is now 33 years old, has been teaching as an elementary school teacher for 10 years. Mrs. Ati shared that before the child-friendly library program, teachers and students never visited the library. Daily routines only focused on teaching and learning activities in the classroom.

After the child-friendly library program was introduced, Mrs. Ati and other teachers at Olaewa Elementary School saw significant changes in the children’s reading interests. They began to see the seeds of reading interest growing among their students. Not only that, the library also became a place where children could explore their interests and talents through a variety of available books. “A significant change has occurred not only for the students but also for me as a teacher. In the past, I was known as a strict figure among my students. However, now, with the library as a fun reading facility, I have become more open and friendly with my students,” said Mrs. Ati.

Mrs Ati is reading aloud for her grade 6 students

“As time goes by, I see significant changes in the behavior and reading interests of the children, especially in grade 6. They have started borrowing books regularly and spending time in the library after school hours. What makes me happy is that several times grade 6 became the class with the highest book checkout in Olaewa Elementary School. Their reading abilities also improved significantly. However, among these increasingly outstanding students, there is one student who particularly needs extra support and attention from me,” she added.

Mrs Ati is helping Juan to find books suitable for his reading ability

His name is Juan, initially he only knew letters, now he can read syllables and simple words. However, his learning journey still requires extra guidance. Every day, Mrs. Ati spends extra time to give him encouragement and motivation. When in the library with him, Mrs. Ati helps him to find suitable books and helps him to understand new words and practice his reading skills. Currently, Juan can read books at the ‘fish’ level fluently, which is the third out of six leveling.

“I like being in the library with friends and our teacher, and I can now read a little bit,” said Juan, while showing his favorite book, “Ruka and Enyu.” When they sit together in the library corner, Mrs. Ati not only becomes a teacher but also a friend and mentor to Juan. “I witnessed how his confidence grew along with his developing reading ability. Every time he successfully reads a word that was difficult for him before, his little smile becomes a witness to how precious that moment is for him. I hope that slowly Juan can enjoy reading and catch up with his friends,” said Mrs. Ati. Additionally, during reading activities, Mrs. Ati asks Juan to sit closer to her, or when it comes to paired reading, he will be paired with a peer who reads faster to balance the reading speed.

Juan and his favorite book

The Principal of Olaewa Elementary School, Alfonsa Wea, expressed gratitude to Taman Bacaan Pelangi for bringing a new spectrum of literacy to their school. “Through the library, which has become a magical space in our school, I realize that education is not only about imparting knowledge but also about providing support, inspiration, and hope to every student, regardless of the challenges they face. And together, we continue this literacy journey, exploring the world through the pages of books, one word at a time, together. Students are greatly helped, especially us the teachers, we are very happy. Thank you,” said the school principal.

They are committed to continuing to collaborate with Taman Bacaan Pelangi and other stakeholders to expand and enrich the book collection, as well as to improve the  library facilities to make it an increasingly attractive and comfortable place for children to learn and explore the world through literacy. Having the hope that more and more children in Olaewa Elementary School and its surroundings can find happiness and knowledge through the books they find in the child-friendly library. Literacy greetings!