The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Wednesday, January 20, 2021

12-year-old bookworm launches favela library in Brazil
Brazilian Lua Oliveira, 12, speaks during an interview with AFP at the public library Mundo da Lua (Lua's World), founded by her five months ago, at the Tabajaras favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 10, 2020. Lua had the idea to open a public library after visiting the Rio de Janeiro International Book Fair last year and made posts in social networks asking for donations, which went viral. MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP.

by Louis Genot

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP).- Lua has a hungry look on her face as she holds her new book on Nelson Mandela, one of thousands the precocious 12-year-old has amassed for her new library in a poor Brazilian favela.

"I don't read books. I devour them," she says in Rio de Janeiro's Tabajaras neighborhood, a shantytown perched in the hills overlooking the chic districts of Copacabana and Botafogo.

In a small tin-roof room at a local community center, she has amassed a collection of 18,000 books, hoping to help other residents access a world that can be all too remote from Brazil's impoverished favelas.

"Lua's World," she calls the library, a cozy space lined with pillows and full to the brim with carefully arranged rows of books.

Lua, her nickname, means "Moon" in Portuguese.

But Raissa Luara de Oliveira -- her full name -- has her feet firmly on the ground.

"At 12 years old, I've done more for my neighborhood than you've done in your whole term," she recently told Rio's mayor, the far-right evangelical pastor Marcelo Crivella, in a defiant video she posted online.

From favela to fame
The idea for the library was born six months ago, when Oliveira was at a book fair.

"I saw a mom telling her daughter she couldn't afford to buy her a book for three reals (about 60 US cents)," she says.

"I said to myself, 'You have to do something.'"

Surreptitiously using her grandmother's cell phone, she sent out a Facebook post asking for book donations.

Then, pretending to be her grandmother, she sent a message to the vice president of the local community association, asking her to give her a space to create a library.

The woman, Vania Ribeiro, guessed right away it was Oliveira. But she agreed to the plan.

"If you run it, I'm in," she replied.

"When I found out she was doing all this behind my back, I scolded her," says Oliveira's grandmother Fatima, 60, a seamstress who has raised her since she was a baby.

"But after that, I supported her all the way," adds the woman Oliveira calls "Mom."

Oliveira's bubbly video message went viral, leading to invitations to appear on a string of TV programs.

Her project is so successful it has been receiving around 1,500 books a week -- way more than her small library can hold.

Behind the shelves, she has boxes full of books she wants to donate to similar projects elsewhere in Rio and in Brazil's poor northeast.

"A boy in Piaui state told me I had inspired him to open a library for the children in his city. I set aside 500 books for him, but we need money to send them. I'm going to make another video to ask for donations," she says.

Next up: puppies, kittens
The library is a hit with children in the favela.

"I love coming here. I come almost every day. It gives me something to do when I'm not at school," says 10-year-old Daniel Couto Nascimento, relaxing on a big cushion and reading a comic book.

"I used to just spend my time playing football and video games."

Oliveira didn't used to be a reader, either.

But when she was nine, a teacher introduced her to "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," American author Jeff Kinney's cartoon novel on the pre-pubescent angst of middle school.

She was hooked.

Now her reading list includes big, serious books on subjects such as racism and religious tolerance.

"I've seen my father get slammed against the wall by police just because he's black," she says.

"I've been called 'voodoo girl' online by a guy who claimed my hair is this color because I stole it from Europeans," she said of her blond-tinged curls.

Attacks like that just inspire her to keep doing what she's doing, she says.

Her next project? Open a shelter for stray dogs and cats in her favela.

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

March 14, 2020

Exhibition at Tate Modern provides a new lens through which to view Andy Warhol

France's Louvre and Palace of Versailles shut by coronavirus

Coronavirus shuts down museums, sites in Greece

Rijksmuseum purchases two Asian scroll paintings at the European Fine Art Fair

Sotheby's Photographs Auction to feature rare Moholy-Nagy, Roger Fenton, Cindy Sherman & more

Almine Rech opens the first solo exhibition of Allen Jones with the gallery

Exhibition offers a comprehensive look at the evolution of William N. Copley's painting during three pivotal decades

12-year-old bookworm launches favela library in Brazil

Family archives lead Printed & Manuscript African Americana sale at Swann Galleries

The 22nd Biennale of Sydney: Nirin presents 101 artists, 700 works and 600 events over 87 days

The unparalleled record-breaking Polish auction market

Keith Olsen, rock hitmaker with a broad résumé, dies at 74

The oldest Macallan and Karuizawa ever bottled, and legendary Bordeaux, lead Sotheby's Wines & Spirits sales

National Gallery of Victoria launches publication with 34 perspectives on works in the NGV collection

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art opens a solo exhibition by Otobong Nkanga

March in Montana auction presents fine western art

SOCO Gallery presents "Into the Woods", an exhibition of new works by artist Douglas Melini

It's Angélique Kidjo's birthday, and her country's too

Innovative and diverse use of colour exhibition opens at Design Museum Gent

New fashion exhibition explores the history of India's enduring influence on Western Fashion

Morphy's to auction "ultimate collection" of coin-op mechanical music machines

Hirschl & Adler Modern opens "Every Lie to Truth"

Norval Foundation brings rising Venice Biennale star Michael Armitage to South Africa

How to Buy Preschool Toys

North Carolina State University basketball player lends an arm to ancient statue

The 5 Most Beautiful Slot Machines of The Last Decade

Macbook 101: A Simple User Guide for Beginners

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful