Kids’ Books Bolivia is a series of bilingual children’s books researched and written by undergraduate students on the SIT Study Abroad Program in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This project contributes to the production of affordable books celebrating Bolivian reality and serves to raise international awareness about Bolivia’s rich cultures and pressing social issues. The project was created in 2008 by Academic Director Heidi Baer-Postigo.
We use all proceeds to subsidize low-cost books and book donations to Bolivian children, schools, libraries, community organizations and literacy programs.
All of the books in this series are bilingual (Spanish and English) and some are trilingual in one of Bolivia’s 36 indigenous languages.
Bolivia has the highest percentage of indigenous citizens in the Americas and the lowest per capita income in South America. Most of the children’s books available in Bolivia are imported, expensive, inaccessible and culturally irrelevant. The majority of public schools do not have libraries. The books in our series are designed to celebrate Bolivia’s diversity and affirm the cultural identity of a people who hosted our authors with open arms.
We have donated books to:
- Libraries in Bolivia
- 2 Thuruchapitas libraries, Cochabamba and Sacaba
- 8 Atillka libraries, Cochabamba
- Children’s Library in El Alto
- Ayni Bibliobus, Cochabamba
- 8 Biblioworks libraries in Sucre
- CIDOB, Santa Cruz
- Schools, after-school centers and NGOs in Bolivia
- Unidad Educativa Tocoli
- Unidad Educativa Llallagua
- Crecer Juntos Alternative school, Potosí
- Wayna Pacha After-School Center, Potosí
- Unidad Educativa Santa Rita, Santa Cruz
- Ciudad del Niño
- Kusicuna Alternative School, Apote
- Unidad Educativa Cururú, Santa Cruz
- Performing Life
- Fundacíon AGRECOL Andes
- Unidad Educativa Eusebio Tudela
- Ethnographic Museum in Sucre, Bolivia
- Colectivo Katari, Cochabamba, Bolivia
- Arlington Public Library, Arlington, VA
- Pro Bolivia Committee, Arlington, VA
- Escuela Bolivia, Arlington, VA
- George Washington University’s Quechua language department
- Five organizations working with the SIT Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Performing Life, Cochabamba
- Sumaj Kausay, Cochabamba
- Graduate Center, Universidad Mayor de San Simón
Our books have been purchased for educational purposes by:
- Over several dozen preschool through middle-school teachers, librarians and universities in Bolivia as well as in:
- Washington, Oregon, Virginia and California
- Vancouver and Winnipeg, Canada
- Bentley University, Lakeforest College, Skidmore College, Brandeis University, George Washington University, University of Oregon, SIT
- Women’s Prison, La Paz, Bolivia
What People Are Saying About Us
The books donated to our library by Kids’ Books Bolivia are tattered and torn from so much use. After every new book presentation by the SIT students, children from our library come back and enthusiastically tell the neighborhood kids about the gringuitos who read their books aloud. They encourage others to read the books.
As a teacher in a bilingual program, it is near to impossible to find books published in places other than Mexico or Spain. As our school is part of the International Bacchalaureate program, it is very important to have resources to teach them about South America as well. As a graduate of SIT Bolivia, teaching a unit about Bolivia using books more recent students have developed is exciting for me, and that excitement transfers to my students.
It was important for the audience [at the XIV Bolivian Dance Competition of Saya Caporal at George Mason University’s concert hall] to learn about what is being done and can be done in Bolivia with our children. The books were spectacular and I would like to obtain copies for my Quechua students at George Washington University, for their culture and language content.
In November 2010, a booth was set up to sell all 10 books in the Kids’ Books Bolivia series at the Jubilee International Marketplace, a fair trade sale held annually at First Presbyterian Church in Spokane, WA. Many people who came to the booth expressed interest in the project and 173 books were sold! Some buyers wanted to learn about Bolivia, others wanted to support the project and the children there. Many bought them to improve their Spanish speaking skills, or skills being developed by their children and grandchildren.
Writing my children’s book, along with my entire semester abroad in Bolivia, was perhaps one of the most influential experiences of my life. It inspired me to continue working with kids in various settings, including at a grief center and a number of summer camps in the US and Bolivia. Moreover, it directly fed into my application and award of a Fulbright grant to further explore the topic of my book: Bolivian migration and its effects on families. Upon my return to Bolivia, I have been excited by the tremendous growth of Kids’ Books Bolivia over the past 2 years, which has coincided with my own personal growth since my study abroad semester.
If you would like to donate to Kids’ Books Bolivia, click here.
- Kids’ Books Bolivia is fully self-sustaining
- Authors have received funding for book publications from sources including:
- Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship (Brandeis, Northwestern)
- Barlow Enrichment Grant, Bates College
- Anthropology Department, Northwestern University
- Alliance for Civic Engagement, Middlebury College
- Provost’s Office & Globalization Studies Department, Gettysburg College
- Responsible Citizenship Task Force, Skidmore College
- First Giving Fundraising
- SIT’s Global Reciprocity Fund
- SIT, a program of World Learning
- Authors, Friends and Family
About the Director
Heidi Baer-Postigo founded Kids’ Books Bolivia in 2008. She has worked in international education for over 15 years and has been an Academic Director of the SIT Study Abroad Culture and Development Program in Bolivia since 1999. She has her master’s degree in counseling from the University of Oregon and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Occidental College. Her interviews with Aymara women of the “Centro Femenino Machaq Q’hantati” were published in Women: Stories of an Experience (1993) by Silvia Salinas Mulder. She has lived in California, Oregon, Germany and Mexico. She currently lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia with her husband Julio and their two children, Maya and Pablo.
Her preface for the Kids’ Books Bolivia series describes her motivation for creating this project:
“Ayni” is a Quechua word meaning “reciprocidad” in Spanish, or “reciprocity” in English. It is one of the most important characteristics of Andean “cosmovisión” or worldview, and has defined and shaped relationships between individuals and communities in the Andes for centuries. As cross-cultural educators for U.S. college students in Bolivia, my co-director and I have put a high value on finding ways in which our students and our program can truly engage in “ayni” — giving something meaningful back to a country which gives so generously to those of us living here both temporarily and permanently.
I inherited from my mother a love of children’s literature. This is a love I hope I am instilling in my own bicultural children. I spend hours browsing through bookstores in search of books which will affirm and celebrate their Bolivian identity. Beautiful examples of such books do exist, but they are few and far between. Most of the children’s books available are imported, expensive and inaccessible to the majority of the population.
In the spring of 2008, two of our students produced a bilingual children’s book for their final Independent Study Project, which was one of the most compelling examples of “ayni” I have seen. It inspired me to create “Kids’ Books Bolivia,” a book series which contributes to the production of affordable books for Bolivian children and raises international awareness about their rich cultures.
In the fall of 2008 I had the privilege of guiding five more students as they engaged in “ayni” and added to the growing series of books celebrating the country which has hosted them with open arms for the past three and a half months. I hope you enjoy the books in this series as much as I do.
About the Website
Artwork for this website was created by Denali Weiler, SIT Bolivia Spring 2003 alum. Technical expertise for this website was provided by Jim Rudolf.