LOS ANGELES – It only takes Dr. Claudia Cataldo a moment to tell who he will pursue.
It was late Thursday afternoon when Cataldo, standing next to his two-door Honda Accord, literally filled with books, spotted a woman and her daughter cutting through a nearby parking lot.
“Hey! Do you like reading?” Books fall into a few books. he called with the patience that only a high school English teacher could collect.
The two of them drove to his car, an improvised bookmaker company, and they slowed down a bit, being cautious but tangled. The daughter hesitates, ալ Cataldo sees how he opens to throw the hammer.
“They are free.” he said, his smile hidden – but still audible – behind a short row of face masks!
He had them.
Less than a minute later, the young girl had six thin booklets at an elementary level, and as she left, she fell in love with Highlights For Children magazine.
And so it happened on Thursday, as Cataldo held a small pop-up gift on the street in front of LAUSD’s Santee Educational Complex, where he teaches 12th grade English.
He launched his one-woman bookmaker crusade last spring, ending the epidemic in LAUSD schools a few weeks later. Sant’s teachers took part in a “spirit caravan” to lift the students’ spirits. When some students who did not live alongside the original reached out for help, Cataldo joined the second “non-caravan” and wondered why he had not brought a few books.
The call for help from Cataldo’s books was left on Facebook և among friends. He transformed his personal Instagram page into people in need to promote his growing bookmaker.
Cataldo soon developed ties. First, one recreation center in Boyle Hates, then another. He donated enough books to build a small library at Watts Transit Shelter, then established links with food distribution, South Los Angeles County Councils, and local farmer markets. He has been running free book tables at the Saturday Crenshaw Farmers Market since July.
His tables are arranged according to the level of reading. Elementary, adult, and adult books are placed so that he / she or his / her volunteers can get the books quickly and efficiently. (And for his advanced placement literature students, he received a box of books from the AP reading lists.)
“My only demand is that the children choose their own books,” said Cataldo. “Young children are not voters. But while they are still in high school, they have a favorite author. ” And if they have a preference – a favorite author, TV series, genre, Cataldo – his volunteers will give a whole series without any questions. He has even donated complete Harry Potter scripts in the past.
As an English teacher, she knows that children read books of their own choosing rather than the books they are assigned. And if people turn to him for books, he will do anything to get them, either from donations or used bookstores.
“I want them to feel that they deserve the best books, that they get what they want, that they deserve to get their books,” said Cataldo. “I’m really into it.”
Many of those who visited his daytime newsletter on Thursday were alumni who enrolled after graduating for a year or more.
Former student Johann Rodriguez brought his young nephew. And when the student and the teacher were caught, his nephew sat on the curb, the nose in the story of superheroes.
“This is the first time I’ve seen him read for a long time,” said Rodriguez. “I prefer to see him expand his vocabulary, his mind, rather than over the phone.”
Another former student, Wendy Cruz-Bahna, attributes to Cataldo what helped push her to study at the University of Dartmouth.
“He helped me build confidence and review my work,” said Cruz-Bahena. “He was like yes, you can be talented, but you have to work hard at it.”
But Cruz-Bahna was at the bookmaker to get back into the habit of reading. He was constantly reading as he grew up, but in high school he would put the books out of his case.
“But I was trying to rekindle my love of reading, because it really helped me to have a poetic voice. It’s something I want to communicate with my art,” said Cruz-Bahna.
The epidemic was also suffocating. He found himself feeling inadequately trapped inside. “Reading was how I expanded my world in the past, I thought I would try again now,” he said.
Maribel Ramos first met Cataldo at another bus stop on Central Avenue, 28th Street, with a handful of his nieces and nephews.
“My daughter, she is 4 years old, she was swallowing me, begging me to read for her, I need more books,” Ramos said. On Thursday, months after their first meeting, Ramos brought him back.
“Amazing is possible,” Ramos said. “I’ve never seen it before … we’re actually building his own library.”
Cataldo was already well-known in the community, having taught in Santi for more than a decade and before at Epherson High School. His students and families love him, he loves them right away. And nothing warms her like the glow she feels when handing books to families.
“It is the hidden joy I would see on their faces, especially when I say do not take only one,” said Cataldo. “Many children are not greedy … I think it ‘s shocking. They deserve more. In such a difficult time, I want to do something to bring them a little joy, a little comfort, a distraction. ”