By supporting children, our work can have the maximum possible impact in the long-term.

In 2017, the books we provided had a clear impact on children in primary schools, secondary schools and on those reading in libraries located in slum communities. We found that access to books encouraged children to read more, improved their academic performance and increased young readers’ confidence.

Increasing reading in slum communities

Children in Nairobi’s Mathare and Kibera slum communities have few opportunities to discover books and improve their life chances. They live in crowded communities with few public services and crime, gangs and drug use are daily realities.

In 2017, we worked with the Kenya National Library Service and local NGO The Mathare Youth Sports Association to create Book Havens in three slum libraries, providing beautiful children’s books, local books, murals, child-sized furniture and inviting book displays. We also trained librarians in how to support young readers. After the Book Havens opened we saw two key changes:

More children are visiting all three libraries. The refurbishment has made the libraries more inviting for children and more children are drawn in to see the colourful murals on the wall and read the new books.

276% increase in the average number of books read every month after three Book Havens opened in Nairobi Find out more

Children are reading more. Newly trained librarians are more able to help children discover books and begin to read. All three libraries have reported that children are reading more in the library and borrowing more books.

“The staff offer direction. They helped me prepare for my interview for my new school by giving me all the books to revise and refer to as I prepared. It was because of them that I got 431 marks out of 500 in the exam I was given in the new school.”
– Kelly, 13 year old Book Haven user

Enriching primary schools

In 2017, we looked at the impact of the first 25 Inspiring Readers Book Box Libraries which opened in Kenya in 2015. We found that having books in classrooms combined with teachers who had the skills to bring those books to life had resulted in two key outcomes:

Improved academic performance. Across the board, teachers noted an improvement in children’s reading fluency and confidence, and this has improved performance in other subjects. Results from Muringato Primary School, shown below, are typical of the changes in pass rates:

7% increase in science exam pass rate after just one year Read more

New-found confidence. Perhaps even more significantly, children report feeling more confident, more able to take steps towards a brighter future and a new love of books.

“At the beginning, I was given two lower primary books and from then on I have never stopped reading. I was able to convince pupils to give me votes to be the Head Boy because I can now communicate well in English.”
– Joseph, Class 7 School Head Boy, Getembe Primary School, Kenya

Reaching secondary school pupils

Passing exams is critical for young people’s futures and many students use their libraries to revise. But all too often those libraries lack the books students need and librarians do not have the skills to support exam takers.

In 2017, we created 16 Study Hubs in Zambian public libraries and schools where pupils would find revision books, textbooks, a study guide and librarians who had received training in how to guide them. As a result:

Pupils are using their libraries more. Visits to the 16 Study Hubs to utilise the materials have increased from 4,512 to 18,485 a month.

310% increase in the average monthly visits to the Study Hubs Find out more

Pupils are approaching exams confidently. Across the board, students reported being able to find what they needed in the donated books and feeling more prepared for their exams.

“The book AQA Maths really helped for the exam. Calculus was not done in class but was in the exam. Because I read it from the book in the Study Hub, I was able to answer the question on the exam.”
– Orance, Year 12 Study Hub user, Zambia

You may also like

Find out more about how we help children discover books outside of their classrooms
Read more >
Learn more about how we're enriching the classrooms of thousands of young people
Read more >
Together, we can put books into the classrooms of 250,000 African Primary school pupils
Read more >