El Bibliobandido, a project by REV- for youth literacy in El Pital, a village in northwest Honduras, using performance and myth-making to excite young people about writing and storytelling. Featured at the Caribbean Crossroads exhibition at the Studio Museum of Harlem.
Conceived by REV- in 2010 in collaboration with the community of El Pital, a village in the jungles of northwest Honduras where rural illiteracy rates average 80%*, El Bibliobandido first induced terror, laughter, and tears in los niños (and more than a few adults), prompting them to write and read furiously in order to avert calamity. Soon after, he became the chief villain that the community loved to hate. The originary drama was repeated on a monthly basis replete with new characters—the police that show up chasing after (but never catching) El Bibliobandido, tiny accomplices referred to as ‘Los Bandiditos,’ and—as of May 2012—an inspector who imperiously rides through town examining the books offered by little kids to make sure they are at their most succulent, most spicy, and most sweet.
Since 2010, the living legend of El Bibliobandido has brought bookmaking and storywriting activities to surrounding villages—some with hardly any books or paper. Today, dozens of adults and over 500 kids from across the northwest region of Honduras are involved in the story’s unfold. Teachers in the 18 participating villages exchange information about literacy activities as well as the latest Bibliobandido ‘episode’ that their communities invent and dramatically enact on the third week of every month (or ‘Bibliobandido Week’), marking the monthly harvest of stories. El Pital remains Bibliobandido Headquarters, where one part time paid employee and 15 volunteers with a median age of 14 coordinate outreach within the region. There lies a troupe of eager kids ready for new stories to offer El Bibliobandido.