The International Book Buddy Project, proposed by a Middletown, Connecticut middle school teacher in the fall of 2013, is a new program that pairs “reluctant” readers and writers at a middle school in Middletown with similar aged children in Deschapelles Haiti. The overall concept is that children from each country read the same book in their native language. They then begin a “conversation” about the book with a counterpart in the “sister city.”
The program in Deschapelles is spearheaded by a group of young men who bring culture, arts, sports and music to their “club” which consists of children of different ages. Also involved are children from a program which provides scholarships to children who would not be able to attend school otherwise. The children ages 14-15 are the most interested in the Project.
Haitian children, no matter what the level, rarely have an opportunity to read books for pleasure. They are familiar with many “stories” from a more oral tradition, but the idea of reading books for pleasure and contemplation is a new concept.
This is a unique project in that it will provide opportunities for real interaction between children in Middletown CT with children in Deschapelles Haiti. The contrast between the two groups would add to the ensuing discussions. The Haitian participants would be dedicated students, eager to study in school to advance their chances to be successful in the world. Reading books for pleasure would open up a whole new world to them. Writing about their reactions to the books would be a totally new experience. In contrast, the teacher in the Middletown School is seeking to have her students read because there would be a reason to read and write about the books. Both groups would have opportunities to learn about different cultures and with very different outlooks on life.