ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Community leaders from around the Albuquerque area have been dedicating a portion of their day to reading their favorite children’s book. Lavender Libros is an online reading program where local elected officials and community members could record a video of themselves reading as a way to connect with local youth.
The project began as an idea that Albuquerque City Councilor Cynthia Borrego had when schools began virtual learning last spring. She spoke with many parents who were concerned about their children being isolated with limited contact with friends or loved ones. When schools began virtual learning, she decided to sit down and record herself reading a book and began recruiting other city and county workers to participate.
The program is volunteer-based, something Borrego said hasn’t been a problem recruiting for. “People have come forward asking if they can participate and when I’m going to ask them to read for the show,” Borrego said. “A lot of folks are excited to do it because they say it makes their day better or reminds them of their childhood.”
Alicia Montoya said she and her daughters watched many of the videos over the summer to keep busy. “I think it’s an excellent way to have something positive come out of this. Our kids don’t watch Saturday morning cartoons like I did growing up, they watch YouTube and get their entertainment from other mediums now so I think it was very forward-thinking of the councilor to do this,” Montoya said.
Montoya said her family enjoyed the reading of Joey: The Story of Joe Biden on the week of the Inauguration by County Commission Assistant Joe Noriega and Health Case Manager Manny Crespin. “I hope moving forward they can also incorporate stories from the pueblos and maybe American Sign Language to make these even more accessible to members of the community,” Montoya said.
There are certain parameters given to those telling stories, like the length of the books which must be under 10 minutes and the book must be for ages under the age of 12 would be interested in. “We also like relating it to our culture if possible. Around Christmas we had a few books that were based on Christmas in New Mexico and those experiences,” Borrego said.
As the program grows closer to its one year mark, Councilor Borrego said that once in-person activities can resume, she hopes to pass the program on to APS so it can continue growing in an educational environment. “We never really anticipated it would be going on this long. Of course, we really didn’t know what the pandemic meant back then in May,” Borrego said. “The good news is, the city council really didn’t have to put any funding into it, it’s just people being willing to give their time to this project.”
Various state senators, city councilors, county employees, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Rio Rancho Mayor Greg Hull and state representatives have joined the program from their homes and read their favorite children’s book, sometimes with their own children and have included their own props and sets.
“I think a measure of success is how excited people are to be part of it, and how excited children are to learn,” Borrego said. “I’ve heard from parents and teachers who have been encouraged because their children or students have found a joy for reading.”