by Julio Urizar
Reading sets us free. It seems commonplace, but with this slogan the Xela book festival FLEX will celebrate its third year.
In Guatemala reading is not a common habit. When reading is a tool that allows each individual to actively participate in their self-education, shaping collective horizons of dialogue, critique and understanding, it is regrettable that few show an interest in opening a book.
The love of reading is typically cultivated in childhood or youth. A girl or youth who develop creative and critical thinking through reading are individuals that have on their side the powers of memory and imagination to think and reinvent their contexts through any professional discipline they choose. Teachers and parents are responsible for promoting reading, but society must also allow spaces to invite you to read and where reading is a pleasure.
According Reading Council Guatemala, for every 100 Guatemalans, 1 reads for pleasure. While illiteracy rates in the country remain alarming (34%), which is also demonstrates the reluctance of society and governments to promote reading. This is reflected in that only 23.6% of students on average exceed the reading tests, according to studies by the Directorate General for Evaluation and Education, Ministry of Education.
In Guatemala there are books, as the country ranks second in Central America in publishing. Numerous publishers and writers are part of bulky, rich cultural wealth of the country. However, factors such as poor distribution, poverty, low educational levels and general disinterest create conditions inaccessible to reading.
If reading can make a more inclusive society, City of Imagination, cultural institution based in Quetzaltenango, is betting on the books again in the third edition of FLEX. A festival that seeks to encourage reading and bring the literature and thinking citizens of all ages through a cultural agenda with the participation of writers, scholars, publishers, booksellers and readers around the country as well as a wide range of libraries and national and international publishers presenting their innovations. More than a book ferie, FLEX is a living space and encounter. Lectures, readings, presentations, workshops, discussions and activities for children, are some of the activities that the festival want to link to the population with books in three days to celebrate the letters. The belief is that the power of reading is able to broaden our horizons and make us authentically free.
FLEX 2015 will take place on 8, 9 and 10 May at the premises of House No’j. For more information visit www.ciudadimaginacion.org.