Welcome to my personal tribute to one of the most wonderful experiences of my childhood: The encyclopedia “The children's World”.
It was the year of 1983 and with three years of age, I was beginning to accumulate some of the first clear memories that I still have in my life. A newly diagnosed elevated cognitive ability for my age, which in my mother's words also translated as having a child “gifted”, motivated my parents, both elementary teachers, to find a way to provide me with the best possible metal stimulation within their limited financial resources.
My father, who years before had been fired from his job as a teacher for participating in union activities, had had to work for a time as a salesman of educational textbooks and owned a copious collection of those texts, as well as a large encyclopedia of 1970 called Summit Encyclopedia, I knew none of those books would capture my restless attention, especially when by then, Color television fiercely snatched the attention of Colombian children, from the hands of classic children's books like Nacho Lee, The Charry Primer or “The Joy of Reading”.
It was then that a literary promoter (euphemism for encyclopedia salesman) from the Spanish publisher Salvat, He visited my father at the headquarters of the district teachers union and told him about the encyclopedia that had become a best seller in Spain and that now had come to Latin America to stay: The children's World.
Then came the home visit that I remember clearly since for the first time I had in my hands a book that strongly attracted my attention. With its bright pages, colorful drawings, great sources and interesting content, It was love at first sight. I remember pointing to images, reading paragraphs aloud and turning pages at full speed while my parents smiled at me and the salespeople looked at them in turn, not with less joy.
From that visit I was left with the expectation to soon have at home the new encyclopedia to devour it complete and a piggy bank that was the miniature replica of one of his books.
A new member of the family
Some days passed, probably a couple of weeks until the day the cardboard box with blue letters that contained it finally arrived at our house 15 beige cover books that became from that moment on one more member of the family, teacher, companion and unlimited fun, no need for cables, electricity, operating systems or monthly payments (Good, except for the 12 months that my parents paid for it).
There are many memories that I could detail: My dad reading the tales and fables of the volume 2, doing the voices of the characters, hours of fun with the games from the volume on Plants, discover the world through “How things work” and the Universe thanks to “Earth and Space”.
The Search for Nostalgia
Many hours of fun that turned into nostalgia in early 2014 when I was telling my wife about those hardcover friends who contributed to a very happy childhood. I wondered where the collection had gone and I began to trace it since the last time I saw it in the library of our old house in the Gustavo Restrepo neighborhood of Bogotá., over there in 2006.
Abandoned by me and my sisters and without having managed to win the love of my daughter and my nephew, the beloved books went to a village children's home in the municipality of Fómeque, Cundinamarca, where my mother is from. There they surely continued to make many boys and girls happy on the sidewalk.. But home no longer exists, so the encyclopedia is probably in someone's house, the sadly, maybe in some landfill.
Not seeing possible the option to recover my old encyclopedia, I started looking online and on virtual sale sites, who had a collection for sale, but not only did I not find more than a couple of sellers on the net, but the photographs they published, they showed the texts in a sorry state. I decided then to look together with my wife for an encyclopedia in good condition in one of the used book stores in the center of Bogotá. After asking in many places, find some loose and quite defective copies and about to give up the search, I asked a salesman who was at the entrance of a winery about her, and the merchant's response caught my attention: “And, I think I have one in good condition, wait for me here”.
The expectation during 15 minutes it took the salesperson to return was similar to what you feel when you are waiting in a cafe, the reunion with a childhood friend. When he finally showed up with the books, I noticed to my surprise that it was the exact same edit that I had 30 years ago and that the state of the volumes was quite acceptable, perhaps better than the one I remember having left my copies in most cases and finally, a price that barely reached a third of what I expected to find for a work in similar condition, And till 10 times less than some specimens that I saw around the net.
How ElMundoDeLosNinos.org Was Born
When I arrived at my house and showed the encyclopedia to my parents, It occurred to me that perhaps many people throughout Latin America have embarked on a search similar to mine, and maybe they haven't had the same luck. So many, they will fondly remember the work and will have searched Google in the hope of finding some of the texts but like me, they will have concluded that there is no such thing.
So I decided to do the dirty work and bring El Mundo de Los Niños into the digital age, not just for the nostalgic like me, but also for the new generations, that they could find in this work the magic that I found in my childhood and that cultivated my interest in science, nature, technology and literature.
This effort will be worth it if somewhere in the world, some mother or father, use some of the content on this website to read a bedtime story to your daughter or son, if a child is interested and begins to explore all the virtual volumes or if a nostalgic person sits down with their parents to remember the good times in the company of the letters and graphics of the encyclopedia.
The site is not for profit, it has no cost and the only donation I hope to receive, are the readers' comments on each of the pages of this page – homage to the fantastic World of Children.
Manuel R Avila