Marcela Escovar

CEO Picnic de Palabras  

MEd Children's Literature and Literacies (2017)

Marcella Escovar Marcela leads an international reading movement known as ‘Picnic de Palabras’ (Picnic of Words), which operates in Latin America, the USA and Europe. The reading picnics are run in over 30 towns and cities and have reached more than 25 000 people, who get to enjoy books through the picnics.  

The ’Picnic de Palabras’ method involves bringing collections of children´s books to outdoor spaces and are based on the premise that shared reading strengthens personal, family and social relationships and allows for skills such as empathy, listening and analysis to be developed.   

For Marcela, reading is an act of hope that can bring inspiration, love and learning to children and their families. In her home country of Colombia, children in rural areas did not always have access to public libraries, so outreach work was vital in helping to reduce educational inequalities.  

To expand the reach of Picnic de Palabras, Marcela developed a network of reading mediators who could run picnics in multiple locations across the globe. Training packages quickly allowed 20 mediators to promote reading in rural areas to around 2000 people per month.  

'Marcela will continue to be an important agent in increasing true literacy in Colombia. She has the vision, energy and ability to create strategies for engaging children, families and educators in reading through the beauty, fun and poetic content of picture books.’  Amalia Low, picture book author

Many of the children at the picnics wanted books they could take home too, so Marcela has worked with authors and illustrators to create four affordable and playful picture books that inspire readers to get engaged in the narratives. Marcela believes that through this work, children and their families can access culture, connect with their heritage and use the themes explored in the books as a source of inspiration to the many ways they can contribute to society.   

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Marcela’s work resonates with many of the SDGs, with the emphasis placed on creating quality educational experiences (4) especially for children living in rural areas or areas where the community have been working to negate the previous experiences of violence. Reading and engagement with books begins a process of empowering communities to tackle inequality (10), empower women (5) and bring about sustainable peace (16).

The vote is now closed and the winner will be announced in the winter edition of Avenue Magazine.