The Salvadoran Consulate in Brentwood is known as a gathering spot for immigrants from that Central American nation seeking documents, from birth certificates to passports.
The office is also a place where many children spend long stretches of time waiting alongside their parents.
An idea was born among staff of the Plainview-based nonprofit, The Early Years Institute, during a consulate visit to turn waiting time into a learning opportunity. The result was a children’s reading center that opened last week, a collaboration between the institute and the Consulate General of El Salvador on Long Island.
The center was established with donations from various sponsors and the assistance of local Salvadoran artists who painted an 11-by-4-foot mural to decorate the room. Institute staff purchased a selection of age-appropriate books that would speak to those children “about the world around them,” said Colleen Multari, the Institute’s early learning director.
Dana Friedman, institute president, said her organization has been pursuing a similar approach with pediatricians' offices, churches and community centers that are gathering spots for children because “a large body of research” emphasizes the importance of reading at an early age.
“We are just hoping that this is one more stake in the ground,” Friedman said, “to say this is what you need to be doing with your children if you want them to be ready for school.”
“What we had before were children that would become impatient and that generated discomfort among parents as well,” said Miguel Antonio Alas Sevillano, vice consul in the region. “We are very satisfied to see that the children now have that space for entertainment and education,” Miguel Antonio Alas Sevillano, vice-consul in the region, said.