Spanish books donated
Children's stories, texts are included
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 5, 2003 12:00 AM
Betty Reid

It's a small but mighty contribution, not for the number, but for the content: 150 Spanish-language books have been donated to South Mountain Community College's library.

"This is a real nice supplement to what we have," said Jill Seymour, a South Mountain Community College librarian.

Valued at $3,000, the books will help bolster literacy for local Latino families, many of whom struggle to read, write and speak the English language. They help college students interested in Latino culture.

The novels, children's books and textbooks were given to the college by the Phoenix Program for the Mexican Communities Abroad, called Programa para las Comunidades Mexicanas en el Exterior Consulado General de Mexico.

The college, at 7050 S. 24th St., plans to introduce the books during the Fiesta de los Libros, National Library Week, which is to be celebrated next week.

Some topics covered in the donated books are issues such as drug abuse or sexuality.

Books like this help families who move from Mexico to the United States, said Susana Ibarra Kladt, coordinator of the Program for the Mexican Communities. Many parents, whose children now attend Phoenix elementary or high schools, were educated from similar textbooks in Mexico.

"The purpose is for parents to understand concepts that their children are learning in English by studying the concepts in their first language, which is Spanish," Kladt said. "We try to help the Mexican community in the United States. A barrier is a lack of education in English. They don't master the language, and we try to help them."

The goal of the 13-year-old Program for the Mexican Communities Abroad is to help, and not to change Arizona's education policies, Kladt said. Donating the reading material won't step on English-only policies, she said.

"We have to be respectful of the education that the country has," she said. "We are bringing an alternative support."

The South Mountain Community College library added the books to its 60,000-book collection, Seymour said, adding that she is very pleased with the gift: "We are always on the market for discounts."

Reach the reporter at or (602) 444-8049.