Concerned for many years about children’s ignorance of perennial
values and how to live them, in 1985 Christine Vollmer decided to take
action. She would draw upon her experience as a parent, journalist and
researcher of child development to write school books that would help
parents in the difficult task of transmitting values. She asked Carlos
Beltramo, an author and educator, to work with her. Together, they came
up with an idea to make values come alive to young people: write a sort
of novel that would span all the school years, and in which the
characters would grow up with the reader, and would go through all the
situations, changes, questions, low points and high points that the
reader would identify with.
They started out writing for
teenagers, and were helped by a group of experts drawn from several
countries: Eduardo D’Agostino and Raphael Bredy, both medical
doctors; Mónica Ballón, a psychologist; Julián Echandía, Alicia
Gamio, Mariela Sarmiento and Magaly Rebaza, all educators; Marcos Nieto,
a graphic designer; and the artist Paul Yanque.
spent years researching, writing and debating the hundreds of points,
big and small, that they had to resolve. Finally, in 2000, a totally new
approach to character development was in print: 5 books for adolescents
and 5 teacher manuals, all in Spanish, with the series name Aprendiendo a Querer.
this point, June Saunders joined the team and began to write, in
English, the books for children ages 6 to 12. They were translated into
Spanish and printed in 2005. The program was complete: 24 volumes—12
books of stories and 12 teacher manuals.
From the start, the idea
was to transmit universally acknowledged values to children everywhere. A
number of surrounding elements help in the effort to capture the human
reality that transcends time and space. The first is the people: the
authors and advisors go beyond borders, cultures, and languages. Then,
the translations to and from Spanish and English have implied, and have
resulted in, cultural adaptations about details that demonstrate the
team’s ability to convey the same message in different contexts.
the program’s geographical expansion ratifies its universality.
Children from almost every country in Latin America follow it. The
English-language version, calledAlive to the World,
exists in digital format; printed books for ages 8-12 are used in the
United Kingdom. A group of specialists drawn from eight sub-Saharan
countries have produced, working with ALAFA, an
adaptation that will be published in English and French. It has images
and texts that their children can relate to, and it pays special
attention to the personal and social implications posed by the HIV-AIDS
pandemic. A Brazilian translation and adaptation will soon be available.
are most grateful to the many individuals and institutions that have
supported the program and contributed to its success, including the