Digital Reading | June 18, 2020

“My Students Were Fascinated” – A Professor Shares His Experience With BookSmart


Eight months ago, we shared with you the exciting news about the launch of our first-ever project in South America, CreceLee (meaning “Grow and Read”). This project is bringing digital reading to schools and households in communities across Peru. Chacasumpa – a small school nestled at an elevation of over 3,000 meters in the Andes Mountains of Peru – is one of these places. It is here that Professor José Luis Paco Alanoca teaches the 5th grade. He’s taken the time to tell us a little bit more about his students and his experience incorporating Worldreader’s mobile phone solution BookSmart into his work with students remotely.

The school and its students

Chacasumpa is located in a district called Ocongate with fewer than 14,000 people. It makes up one part of the Quispicanchis province within the larger Cusco region of the country. At one time, this region was part of the Incan Empire. Now, it is also home to the 21 children, 7 women, and 14 men that make up Professor José Luis’s class. Most of these students are dedicated to agricultural activities and come from a mixed cultural background of Quechua and Castellano. 

José has been teaching at this school for two years. “While we lack some conditions of basic infrastructure,” he says, “we make up for it with the effort and determination of the children.” “These are children who are really capable and have such a strong desire to learn,” he continues, “All of them collaborate with one another and are so excited when they learn something new.” 

At the same time, José can see that these children do not have many resources. Many of them suffer issues relating to malnutrition and short stature. However, none of this has been able to keep them from continuing to learn. The government has put a great deal of effort into providing school breakfasts to these children through a nutrition program called Qali Warma.

José’s discovery of BookSmart

In addition to being a teacher, José is also the father of a son in 6th grade. Because of the closure of schools due to COVID-19,  José began to look into digital applications that would permit him to continue reading to his son before the start of virtual classes. Through this search, he discovered BookSmart, along with other apps with access to free books. Worldvision (a partner of Worldreader) then carried out training on the use of BookSmart for teachers in the Quispicanchis province. Thanks to this training, José has been able to use BookSmart to make the most of its collection of literature in working with his students. .

Students’ Experiences

As their first activity, José communicated through WhatsApp to his students that they should download BookSmart. Then, they took a vote to choose a book to read and analyze together over the next three weeks. The result: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. 

This book caught the students’ attention because they did not understand how a person would be able to travel around the entire world in 80 days. Some suggested “walking” or “by car.” No one knew what a hot-air balloon was. “They were fascinated. Delighted,” he recalls. The reading was also supplemented by further teaching activities that the students actively enjoyed. 

Through a partnership with the Peruvian Ministry of Education’s free digital learning platform, thousands more students will be accessing BookSmart. 

“I congratulate Worldreader for giving my students this opportunity to continue learning from home,” José says. His final words for us? “Thank you, Worldreader!”. 

P.S. Your donation will help keep BookSmart free for students in Peru during the pandemic. Please consider donating here to continue supporting José and his students. Thank you!