The organization REFORMA works with migrant children detained in the south western USA. It began soliciting children's books in Spanish to be delivered to the children in the detention centres in Texas and New Mexico and to the shelters and group homes around the country where these children are sent after being processed by the immigration services. In the second phase of the project they will distribute backpacks that will contain books as well as paper, pencils, erasers, crayons and a writing journal for children to use in their journey toward their destination. In 2015 the IBBY Foundation provided funding for REFORMA towards the acquisition of books for this project. A specially designed English/Spanish library card was added to the backpacks to introduce the children to the library system in the USA. This idea was later adapted for libraries in Canada, where English/Arabic and French/Arabic library cards were printed to welcome Syrian refugee children to Canada and its libraries.


IBBY Auction of Original Artwork for Children in Crisis

Somos como las nubes / We Are Like the Clouds by Jorge Argueta; illustrations by Alfonso Ruano;
 trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado

Launches Friday, 20 January 2017 and runs until the close of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair on Wednesday, 5 April 2017 18:30 CET. Go to IBBY AUCTION to see the artwork and make your bid in this exceptional opportunity to help these children in crisis. The artist Alfonso Ruano has donated all the illustrations from this highly regarded book to support the IBBY/REFORMA Children in Crisis Project.

The Other Refugees: Children from Central America

Sixty million people around the world became refugees in 2015. Half of them were children. Syrian refugees have been highly visible with good reason. But the approximately hundred and twenty thousand unaccompanied children from Central America that have made and are still making the very dangerous trip to try and find safety and a way to survive in the United States are virtually invisible. And there are an almost equal number of families with children (primarily single mothers) who have also arrived in the same period. Read full article here.


Reading Saves Lives 

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, as well as parts of Mexico, are once again experiencing renewed conflict with the death rate climbing to levels seen in the 1980s. This conflict is primarily driven by the war on drugs. In Central America the repercussions of the previous war, in particular the corruption, extreme inequality, poor policing, and broken social structures have resulted in governments finding themselves virtually incapable of protecting their citizens. As in most war zones children suffer the most grievous consequences.  The flood of unaccompanied children seeking refuge from the violence is a direct result of the past 45 years of war in the region.

The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), the United States branch of IBBY (USBBY), IBBY México/A leer, REFORMA, the American Library Association and the Texas Library Association call on the US Government and the bodies responsible for the care of unaccompanied refugee children and families while they are detained in facilities and as they are released to allow them access to appropriate books, to have contact with Spanish-speaking librarians who are trained in using books as therapeutic agents, and to ensure that their well-being is monitored as they are processed through the system.   Books and reading save lives and give traumatised children a chance to become whole, contributing citizens as they grow up.

A delegation from Texan and international library and literacy organizations is visiting South Texas on a two-day fact-finding trip to better understand the circumstances surrounding the detainment of unaccompanied children and to meet with child advocates and service providers for refugee and unaccompanied minors. Read the full press release here.

The toolkit to support librarians when welcoming refugee children to their libraries can be downloaded here


Summer 2015 Fact-Finding Visit to the Rio Grande Valley

Statement of Purpose

Representatives of Texas, national, and international organizations as well as representatives from Mexican literacy organizations will be meeting in the Rio Grande Valley August 3–4 to see first-hand the work underway to improve the cultural lives of arrested and detained migrant children along the US-Mexican border.

Specific goals of this visit:

- To have interactive encounters with caregivers, teachers, librarians, law enforcement officials, and—to the extent possible—with the migrant children and parents/relatives of these children themselves;

- To describe and understand the existing infrastructure for providing high-quality reading material—along with accessories, such as writing tools and backpacks—to the migrant children, both as gifts and in the form of library services;

- To discuss how to improve this infrastructure and estimate the costs of necessary steps;

- To review governmental and non-governmental sources of support, including foundations whose mission is to improve the cultural lives of children;

- To consider additional stakeholders and partners, e.g. organizations working to improve housing, family cohesion, and legal services for the migrant children;

- To prepare action steps based on the findings of the RGV visit and assign specific follow-through responsibilities;

- To reach out to local, national, and international media to create or increase awareness for the plight of these children and for the need of both public policy and private fundraising solutions. This outreach will be in the form of press releases, reports in wide-circulation publications written by participants, and longer-term publicity.

- In all encounters, emphasize the importance using bibliotherapy and the benefits that traumatized children get from books and reading, and promote awareness (and support) for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.