Inspiring children, teachers and librarians with Inspiring Readers
Our Inspiring Readers programme aims to improve reading opportunities for primary school children by providing Book Box Libraries for use in the classroom. As well as over 1,000 brand new books for each school, two teachers also attend training with their local library to help them run a successful school library.
The programme works through ‘hub libraries’, which have Children’s Corners, reaching out to local schools to help them run their libraries effectively. To do this, we train the hub librarians who in turn train teachers from local schools.
Thanks to funds from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Inspiring Readers has now launched in 25 schools in Kenya. Agnes Karegi is Head Librarian at Kenya National Library Service (knls) Rumuruti branch library, one of the ‘hub’ libraries involved in the Inspiring Readers programme. The programme has been running in five schools in the local area for just over a month. We talked to Agnes about the programme and the difference it has been making to local school children so far:
knls Rumuruti branch library is in Laikipia county in Kenya. There are 42 tribes in the local area and the library serves everyone – adults and children. The community here is very poor, in everything including in resources. This is because there aren’t any industries or companies here – most people are livestock keepers. So when we opened Rumuruti library it was a big help to the children, to their parents and to the society at large to have access to books and information resources.
Illiteracy levels are very high because most people have not gone to school. Around three-quarters of the adults are illiterate. The library has done a lot of work to inform the community of the importance of going to school and reading. Now parents and children see a need for going to school and learning. And now the children are catching up.
There are some areas where children have never seen a book before. The Inspiring Readers programme is going to transform the lives of these children. Now, they will have books to look at in school, to feel, to touch the pictures and to learn to read from. They can even take the books home.
The programme has really inspired the schools – a lot of them didn’t have books, especially fiction and story books. Now, they have put a library lesson into their timetables. Before, that was just a free lesson. Now, they use it to issue the books out and for children to read and enjoy the books. It is also creating a reading culture amongst the pupils. Before, they weren’t interested in reading but that was because they didn’t have books to read. We have visited the five schools in the programme and we have seen the change: the children want to read.
The children have said that books make them feel like they have gone out into the world even though they are still in their village. Some of the children are 12 or 15-years-old and they have never left their village. A 15-year-old is a mature person who has had so few life experiences, yet they tell me they can travel the world through a book. This really inspired me. This programme is aimed at inspiring readers, but me, I am inspired as a librarian.
Inspiring Readers is the best thing to happen to Lakipia County.
We are delighted to hear of the difference that the Inspiring Readers programme is already making to school children in Rumuruti! We’ll bring you further updates from Agnes and knls Rumuruti branch library in future. In the meantime, click below to find out more about our Inspiring Readers programme and our work in Kenya.