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Books for breakfast, master classes for lunch: how the Superheroes Library works

Books for breakfast, master classes for lunch: how the Superheroes Library works


The Superheroes School at the Okhmatdyt National Children's Hospital has its own place of power - the Library. Since the beginning of the war, it has become a repository of childhood, because it is located on the ground floor and according to the military rule of "two walls". It was here that children gathered every day, where they shared their fears and anxiety and could forget about what was happening on the street for at least a couple of hours. "During the war, we used to open the Library for a few hours to hold some workshops or play games with the children. But they started asking for more time just to be there. And some of them even started reading, although before they said that they were not interested in books" - Svitlana, social worker at the Okhmatdyt National Children's Hospital.

Now the Library is working at full speed, because we managed to find an incredible librarian - Olga Bulkina. Literally from the first day of the war, she volunteered at the National Children's Hospital "Okhmatdyt", came to conduct master classes or to entertain children and hospital staff, because Olga is a professional hospital clown. For example, recently they all together drew a star sapper dog Patron, who later visited the Okhmatdyt National Children's Hospital. Olga Bulkina constantly repeats that children call the Library a place where dreams come true: "The most valuable thing is when I come to work, and the gang has already gathered at the door, everyone hugs me and says: we have been waiting for you to come and we will be in the Library! I want to live and work for such moments." How it all beganThe Superheroes Library has come a long way. And it began (as well as the School itself) in the HIV department of the National Children's Hospital "Okhmatdyt". There were books there, most of which looked quite old and did not interest children at all. We came up with the idea to collect books by contemporary authors - to make them bright, popular books that beg to be picked up. But how to get children interested in reading? We turned to TV presenters who came once a week and read aloud to children. The real hit of these events was Vsevolod Nestayko and his "Forest School", the children asked to read a little more, were looking forward to the next week, and as soon as the book was finished, they immediately asked to start it again. And the #knyholav publishing house donated copies of all the books they published.

Thus, the Library came to life and was filled with modern stories, from which it was difficult to tear the children away. Later, textbooks from the Genesis and Ranok publishing houses joined the Library. And to supplement our Library with truly special copies, in 2019 we organized a marathon during the all-Ukrainian teachers' conference EdCamp, where we invited teachers to choose and donate one special book about superheroes and heroines. During all this time we were able to collect more than 14,000 books, some of which were sent to Superhero Schools in other cities. But it became clear that books need their own home. This is how a modern educational space was born, which became a portal to childhood. The design of the room and all the furniture of the Library of Superheroes was developed by talented designers from the bureau "Colon" Yuri Bagan and Elizaveta Feshchenko. And the books finally found their comfortable home. And in addition to reading corners, we have arranged a play area and placed tables with computers so that children can fully enjoy time for themselves. Already in February 2020, the Library, with the support of the curator of the Superheroes School, TV presenter 1 + 1 Natalia Moseychuk, opened its doors to all patients of the Okhmatdyt National Children's Hospital.

And our first star guest was Kateryna Pavlenko, the vocalist of the Go-A band: "All of us, both adults and children, dream. But very often no one believes in us, in our dreams. But this is not a reason to give up, it is worth reading. Books teach us to dream like nothing else. This is the best source to develop your imagination, not to stop and dream about something beautiful for the whole society, the whole planet. "The library in the hospital is a portal to childhoodNow the library has completely come to life, the war could not stop its heartbeat, but on the contrary only strengthened it. Here children feel safe, here they can freely travel to fantastic countries or universes, learn, satisfy their hunger for adventure and impressions. In June 2022 alone, children took and read almost 40 books. Their enthusiasm and curiosity are only growing. And for some, the Library becomes therapy, a place where you can dream or express yourself freely, a place where there are no diagnoses or obstacles. A regular visitor of the Library Olenka, who has Down syndrome, likes to come every day, look at the illustrations in the books and distribute the appropriate roles to all present, for example, the Librarian Olia has already managed to be in the role of Snow White, Elsa from Frozen or Sleeping Beauty.

And thirteen-year-old Christina, who uses a wheelchair, says that the Library is the most comfortable place. She has been in the hospital for almost 2 months and every day she comes just to stay here and help the Librarian, calls herself a little helper and admits that she did not like to read before, but now books attract her. These children, their stories are our daily motivator, proof that nothing is in vain, that happiness is sometimes in simple things and warm attention to the world inside each little superhero: "These children are a separate universe, I learn sincerity from them every day, so at work I get a powerful charge of inspiration and love", - Olga Bulkina. Thanks to all our friends and partners, thanks to whom the Library of Superheroes appeared and lives - Winner Imports Ukraine, Baker Tilly Ukraine, International Women's Club of Kyiv, Cooper&Hunter Ukraine, Hanoch Piven, The World Union For Progressive Judaism, Daria Pomeranzeva and Inna Schorr.

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