In 2022, Covid, climate change and conflicts disrupted millions of lives, forcing children from school and leaving more families struggling.
So throughout the year, we worked to give people facing these huge challenges the opportunity to read, and we put them at the heart of our new Power of Books strategy.
In total, we provided 1,140,435 books donated by UK publishers to partners in 26 countries, and funded the purchase of 46,247 locally published books. They have given 13.1 million people the opportunity to read.
Our work relies on our partners’ commitment and our supporters’ wonderful generosity. I am grateful to our volunteers for their time, to the publishers who donate the books we send, to the companies and trusts who give generously and to the many thousands of donors here in the UK who enable us to provide the books communities need.
Together, we can share the power of books with more readers worldwide.
Dr Alice Prochaska, Chair of the Board of Trustees and current Vice Patron
We believe that everyone, whatever their situation, should have access to the books they need to build the future they want.
Throughout 2022, we worked to give more people the opportunity to read for pleasure, study and life-long learning by supporting a range of libraries and partners with books of all types. In total, we provided books to 4,410 libraries and reading spaces of all shapes and sizes. They ranged from community libraries run by grassroots NGOs to national libraries in capital cities to a few books available in a single room in a refugee camp.
Country-wide access to books
National library services offer the widest possible access to books and give millions their only chance to read, but they are often under-resourced and unable to purchase the books that might fire readers’ imaginations.
So we support public library networks across sub-Sharahn Africa with ongoing donations of all kinds of high-quality books to build their collections. Last year we supported 433 networked public libraries in The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zambia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.Find out more about our work supporting libraries
Access for communities
Many of our partners focus on creating small libraries that serve people for whom visiting a school or traditional public library would be impossible. For example, last year we provided educational, law and fiction books to 57 prison libraries.
We also worked with NGOs that focus on giving people who have been excluded from formal learning environments the opportunity to read. In Somalia, where women and girls are too often kept out of the classroom, we supplied 3,150 books to the Eva Organisation for Women to establish libraries in community spaces in Mogadishu, Balcad and Jowhar.
Taking the next step
To guide our work taking the next step towards a world where everyone has access to books, in 2022 we launched our new Power of Books strategy. It focuses on four key goals: Ensuring equitable access, engaging readers, investing in partnerships and advocating for books.
The rest of this report details our progress against these goals.
In 2022 we prioritised creating access to books where the barriers to reading and learning are at their highest and supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Because we know that access to books can help break the cycle of poverty and build a more equal world, last year we focused our work on where books can make the greatest difference.
We worked with our partners to reach more people whose lives were impacted by poverty and inequality, who were denied the chance to read and who were unable to access books because of conflicts and disasters.
of books provided to low-income countries
of books reached disaster and conflict-affected countries
In 2022 we supported 1,519 schools in low-income countries* by donating books to their school libraries. This included providing brand-new books to 60 nursery, primary and secondary school libraries in South Sudan, and supporting 206 school libraries in Malawi, one of the ten poorest countries in the world. We also created 245 new school libraries in low-income countries.
* As defined by The World BankFind out more about our work enriching education
Promoting gender equality
Throughout 2022 we worked with new and existing partners to help give more girls the opportunity to read, contributing to SDG 5: Gender Equality.
For example, in Northern Uganda we worked with the Jesuit Refugee Service to support their work encouraging refugee girls to stay in school. Together, we created school libraries for 395 girls across 21 secondary schools. They offer both books and solar lights to borrow, ensuring that girls can continue reading into the night once chores are done.
Supporting good health and well-being
Last year we provided 77,965 medical books to partners in 24 countries, supporting both students and healthcare providers and contributing to SDG 3: Good health and well-being.
This included 1,088 books to the Edna Adan University hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland, a city still recovering from civil war, and 1,540 books to Médecins Sans Frontières in Sierra Leone, a country with one of the worst under five survival rates in the world.Find out more about our work providing health information
In 2022, we provided books to 126 refugee settings, giving 131,452 refugees the opportunity to read. In Greece, our partner Solidarity Now used the 2,256 books we provided to help refugees learn English, continue their education and find a moment of respite from camp life.
We also provided 15,744 books to Packed with Hope and the Universal Reading Foundation. Both organisations are supporting Ukrainian refugees, and the books we sent offered hope to children fleeing the conflict.Find out more about our work with refugees
Responding to conflict
We provided books to people living with or recovering from conflicts in 12 countries in 2022.
This included 3,128 higher education and medical texts to our partners Action for Humanity in Syria, 22,495 books to support learning for Palestinians for whom living with unrest and insecurity is the norm and 10,288 higher education texts to the Mosul University Library to help restore its collection after Islamic State burnt the library to the ground in 2014. To date, we have provided 35,860 books to support the library.Find out more about our work responding to conflict and disaster
Last year we worked to engage more people in reading, particularly in
If people are to engage with reading, they need easy access to good quality books chosen to meet their needs and people who have the skills to help them begin to read.
So in 2022 we worked with our partners to provide a wide range of books to readers of all ages, establish inviting reading spaces and train teachers, librarians, staff, volunteers and parents in how to encourage reading.
We also grew our partner network outside Africa to provide more opportunities for engagement with reading to thrive globally.
school libraries established or supported
partners supported outside Africa
Creating vibrant school libraries
School libraries full of brand-new, well-chosen books help pupils engage with books, become confident readers, curious learners and, eventually, school leavers with ambition to succeed.
So in 2022, we stocked 2,056 school libraries with brand-new carefully selected books that will encourage children to begin a lifetime of reading. They included books chosen to get children excited about reading – from illustrated story books to true-life adventure stories to science fiction.Find out more about our work enriching education
Establishing new school libraries
In addition to stocking school libraries with books, we worked with our partners to establish 456 new school libraries, bringing the total number of school libraries we supported to 2,512.
We also trained 599 teachers in how to get children engaged with reading and funded the purchase of 46,247 locally published children’s books to enrich those libraries. These books reflect children’s own experiences, and can help them engage with reading.Find out more about our work enriching education
Our school programmes
We ran a number of schools programmes in 2022. In Uganda, Ghana and Zimbabwe we expanded our Discovery Book Box programme, giving 9,831 children access to 8,779 books in their classrooms.
Through our Reading Around the Reserve project, we established libraries in 68 schools around national parks in Malawi and Zimbabwe. In Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Zanzibar, our Explorer Library programme transformed 12 disused spaces into beautiful, engaging reading spaces stocked with exciting books.
And through our African Story Box programme, we reached 84 schools in Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Supporting education NGOs
Throughout the year, we focused on working with NGOs to give the world’s most disadvantaged young people the chance to engage with books.
In Cameroon, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, we provided 16,000 books to Street Child, an NGO which works to make sure even the most marginalised children can have an education. We also provided 12,000 books to Voluntary Services Overseas to support their work establishing school libraries across Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda.
Engaging people in communities
Libraries give people the opportunity to engage with books and reading where they live and act as information hubs for the whole community. In 2022, we provided books to 433 public and 626 community libraries across all of the African countries where we worked and Lebanon.
In Uganda, the Community Library Association of Uganda aims to create greater access to books at the community level by fostering the growth of community libraries, and we provided 5,394 books to support its work. And in Ethiopia, we supported 41 community libraries across the country.Find out more about our work promoting reading in communities
Our third Community Container Library
In 2022 we worked with local literacy organisation the Ineza Foundation in Rwanda to open our third Community Container Library, turning an ordinary shipping container into a thriving community library.
We provided 5,000 books to stock the library’s shelves and a grant to completely fit out the space – providing everything from shelves to murals to windows. We also provided a grant to buy locally published books, and trained Ineza staff and volunteers in how to foster a love of reading.Find out more about Community Container Libraries
In 2022 we worked to support our partners so they can create sustainable change for readers around the world.
Everything we do, we do through partnerships with organisations of all kinds who believe, as we do, in the power of books.
So in 2022 we increased the number of new partnerships we have with organisations that share our vision of creating equitable access to books and invested in new initiatives to strengthen capacity amongst our existing partners.
local trainers up-skilled
new partnerships formed
Welcoming new partners
We formed 56 new partnerships in 2022. These included The Maa Trust, which supports Maasai families to read, study and learn new skills and The Lebanese Association for Development and Communication, a local partner that provides English classes to refugees.
Many of these organisations do not have education or reading as their core purpose and use the books we provide to support their larger aims. In Uganda, we built links with the Bwindi Conservation for Generations Foundation, which came to us with a request for books related to nature and responsible tourism.
Developing partner capacity
In 2022 we supported our partners to develop their capacity by up-skilling 21 trainers, providing grants totalling £84,428 for local book purchase and training 1,109 librarians, teachers, parents and staff in how to support reading.
For example, in our work with the Jesuit Refugee Service establishing school libraries in Northern Uganda, we delivered a virtual ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop to ten Jesuit Refugee Service staff from both the refugee community and Kampala. They went on to train 40 teachers from 21 schools.Find out more about our work training teachers and librarians
Investing in partner projects
Our Community Reading Awards programme provides small grants to establish micro projects outside of traditional school and library settings to get communities reading.
In 2022, we provided 12 grants totalling £18,090 to fund 12 micro-projects. They included a library in a market in Freetown, Sierra Leone, a reading space in a children’s hospital in Zimbabwe and a library for football spectators in Kenya.
We also worked with our long-standing partners to co-create programmes designed to address the specific challenges readers face. For example, we worked with Street Child in Cameroon to develop Reading Together – a programme designed to encourage families affected by conflict to engage with books.
Through the programme, we provided training to eight Street Child staff in how to support reading, and they went on to train 200 parents in techniques to help children build and develop their reading skills. As a result, 845 children were given extra support to read at home.
We stepped up our efforts to advocate for the transformational power of books in 2022.
Millions of people are held back by a lack of books, and too often the impact of being without books goes unrecognised.
So, in 2022 we worked to raise awareness of the pressing need for books around the world and to help our partners advocate for reading in the communities where they work.
reader stories published
people attended Reading Promotion events
Supporting Reading Promotion
In 2022, we expanded our Reading Promotion campaign. The campaign provides grants for partners to run events that encourage reading that are designed to raise the profile of libraries, encourage people to visit and engage local decision makers who can unlock resources for libraries and become advocates for books.
In 2022 we ran the campaign in 12 African countries and Lebanon. The events our partners held engaged 819 adults and 4,310 children.
Showcasing stories of change
Throughout 2022, we supported our partners, readers and donors to share their stories with us – and we published 31 stories on our website and social media channels to bring the power of books to life. They were read 1,788 times.
We also placed a story in the London Book Fair Dailies and secured 103 pieces of press coverage. In addition, we developed a feature on The Queen’s Reading Room around International Day of the Girl Child.Browse reader stories
Taking part in the Hay Festival
In 2022, our event at the Hay Festival focused on how books can help Nigerians imagine their future. The conversation between Booker Prize winning author Ben Okri and our Trustee Zainab Umaar covered the challenges readers face, the role of the storyteller and the vital importance of books for the next generation of Nigerians.
The event was sold out and gave us the chance to engage festival followers and participants, encouraging them to take action for a book-rich world.
Working with publishers
Last year we led a panel discussion on the importance of diverse children’s books around the world at London Book Fair, joined a panel at the Frankfurt Book Fair focused on the importance of African libraries and joined conversations on children’s books, reading projects in marginalised communities and the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the Bologna International Book Fair.
We were also asked by RELX to join an SDG Inspiration Day, and were invited to visit Harper Collins, the Institute of Physics Publishing and Oxford University Press to speak about the impact of donated books.
We are supported by thousands of people in the UK who believe in the power of books, and we are grateful for every person who is part of our community.
Some of our supporters give £6 a month, others make multi-year grants and others donate the brand-new books that readers around the world need. But they all contribute to a world where everyone has access to books.
Here you can meet a few of the inspiring people who help us share the power of books around the world.
“We’ve been privileged to work with Book Aid International”
43 companies supported our work last year. The companies we work with share our belief in books, and together we can reach more readers around the world.
“We’ve been privileged to work with Book Aid International for nearly 30 years. We know that the strength of their partnerships with local libraries and communities mean our donations are reaching the people who most need them.”
– Heidi Mulvey, Head of Community Engagement, Cambridge University Press & Assessment
“I look forward to the days I volunteer.”
In 2022, we were delighted to welcome in-person volunteers back into our warehouse full time. Their contributions were vital to enabling us to select and pack books for readers around the world.
“I look forward to the days I volunteer. I enjoy the fact that in a very small way, I might be helping a child’s eyes to open, a student nurse to gain important knowledge, a library that has been bombed be restocked or perhaps a prisoner be able to endure their captivity a little more easily.”
– Margaret Martindale, volunteer
“We know we have an ally and a friend in Book Aid International.”
The long-term relationships we build with trusts like the People’s Postcode Lottery’s Education Trust, the Beit Trust and many others help us provide books and fund projects which transform reading for millions worldwide. Last year, 26 trusts supported our charity.
“Be Global Foundation has been partnering with Book Aid International for a few years now and they have continued to remain a reliable and accomplished partner. We know we have an ally and a friend in Book Aid International and are proud to be working together to create a more equal world through the power of books.”
– Caroline Yulin Wilson, Founder & CEO of Be Global Foundation
“I hope that I will inspire people to pick up a book, go out for a walk or donate.”
By organising events ranging from bake sales to walks to readathons, people who fundraise in their communities help us send hundreds of books every year – and we’re incredibly grateful for their support.
“I decided to choose Book Aid International as the charity’s mission feels especially close to me. I have always been so lucky to have access to books, and I hope that I will inspire people to pick up a book, go out for a sponsored walk or donate.”
– Caroline Guillet, supporter
“Books can help people to re-imagine their futures.”
Whether speaking out on our behalf on social media or joining us at a literary festival, our high profile friends help us raise awareness about the need for books around the world.
“Books can help people reimagine their futures. I was delighted to be at 2022’s Hay Festival to talk about how readers and writers can influence the world for tomorrow.”
– Sir Ben Okri, OBE, poet, novelist and artist
“I feel happy donating to Book Aid International”
Over 8,000 people gave to our cause in 2022, and every £2 they give sends another book. We are grateful for each and every one of their donations, as well as to those who leave legacies in their Wills and make substantial personal donations.
“I feel happy donating to Book Aid International because it is an open and transparent organisation that operates in a thoughtful, well targeted manner.”
– Rose Heatley, donor
“Book Aid International is the only applicant to have twice won Africa Publishing Innovation Fund funding.”
Publishers and the book trade provide huge support for our cause. Last year, 111 publishers donated 989,647 books to our charity, and we received over £74,664 from publishers and from The Africa Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF). We simply could not do what we do without publishers’ support.
“Book Aid International is the only applicant to have twice won Africa Publishing Innovation Fund funding. The Community Container Library and the African Story Box aligned perfectly with our own objectives, and we knew Book Aid International would deliver on its promises.”
– Ben Steward, APIF Programme Manager
At Book Aid International all of our income is voluntary – we receive no government grants.
In 2022 our total income was £17,700,588, of which £2,265,915 was cash and £15,434,673 was the value of books donated to us by publishers.
In 2022 our total expenditure was £17,420,968, of which £2,629,726 was cash expenditure and
£14,791,242 was the value of the books we provided around the world.
By 2030, 750 million children and young people will live in Africa. They all have the potential to become future doctors, teachers, tech professionals, thought leaders, and more.– Alison Tweed
Rising to the challenge
The global need for books is growing, and so is our ambition to reach more readers.
In 2022, a global economic crisis, fuelled by the war in Ukraine, began to take its toll, and the target year of 2030 for the Sustainable Development Goals drew a step closer.
Our Power of Books strategy challenges us to look ahead and to consider how we can best support young people to create positive change and build a more equal future.
By 2030, 750 million children and young people will live in Africa. They all have the potential to become doctors, teachers, technology professionals, thought leaders and more. And so, in 2023, we will launch a major new initiative, Generation Reader, to reach 10 million young people across the continent and to support them on their journey towards becoming confident readers and realising their potential – and their dreams.
We will also continue to support those who face the greatest barriers to reading, providing brilliant, brand-new books, selected carefully for their relevance and for their power to inspire, entertain and comfort, even in the toughest of circumstances.
To do all this we will need – more than ever – support from publishers who give us wonderful new books to share, the partners who work so hard to effect positive change and everyone who has continued to stand by us in these most challenging recent times.
Thank you for everything you do to help us share the power of books, and we look forward to working with you in the years ahead.