John reading

The book that inspired John

10th April 2018 | Blog

18-year-old John grew up in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya and discovered his local library run by our partner the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) when he was ten.

At his new library, he read all sorts of books but there was one in particular which he found so inspiring it kept him going back to the library time and again. Here he tells us more.


John and his favourite book
John with his favourite book


The MYSA library changed my life.

I remember when I was just a little boy, thirsting for knowledge at the age of ten, I stumbled upon the library as I trudged along the road close to our home. Upon learning that the library services offered were free, I did not hesitate to become a member. I started reading storybooks and the complexity of the books increased with my age. However the book that motivated me to come to the library many more times was a book by Roald Dahl known as Boy.


Engrossed in reading at a MYSA library
Engrossed in reading at a MYSA library


Boy is a short biography of the renowned children’s books author Roald Dahl. As a youngster in the library I enjoyed his books such as The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. However, I like Boy the most because it highlights the childhood events that moulded him into what he eventually became. This book motivated me as a child because Roald Dahl brings out the challenges they faced as a family.


MYSA readers
Enjoying books after school


Unfortunately Roald’s father died and left a family of six children. What inspires me is how Roald’s mother managed to struggle and raise the children on her own in a foreign land (Roald’s parents had moved to England from Norway). She did not snap at the shock and pressure of becoming poor but she pressed on. Despite the challenges, Roald still makes it and later on works with the Shell Company in East Africa. His desire for adventure sends him there despite the criticism he faces.

I am inspired by how successful he became while facing all the odds. From that time henceforth, I have been a regular MYSA member thirsting for knowledge. My MYSA library has been a major positive influence in my life.


Thanks to your support, young people like John in the Mathare slum are enjoying a wide range of inspiring children’s books. They also have refreshed spaces to read in as part of our Book Havens project.

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