Ringing in the New Year
As we begin 2022, our Chief Executive Alison Tweed reflects on what we learned last year and on the opportunities and challenges on the horizon for 2022.
First and foremost, let me start by thanking everyone who supported our charity in 2021 whether by donating books, funds or by helping us spread the word.
The on-going impacts of the pandemic meant that it was not an easy year. But despite lockdowns, the global shipping crisis and HGV driver shortage we reached our goal of providing over one million books to 150 partners in 24 countries. Through the generosity of our supporters, we were able to offer millions of people access to books, create 133 school libraries and empower 609 teachers and librarians to support reading in their own communities.
In the years to come, the need for books will be greater than ever before. UNESCO reports that as I write this more than 37 million children are still out of school because of Covid. Millions more are struggling to catch up on lost learning, and many children may never return to formal education. Girls in particular are at risk.
Covid is not the only challenge that readers in the communities where we work face. Climate change, conflict and displacement existed before Covid, and the pandemic has only worsened their impacts.
In these challenging times, the power of the book has never been so plain to see. Reading has offered respite from lockdown and the chance for everyone to keep learning even when classrooms must close. That is why in 2021 we launched new programmes designed to create opportunities for children to read at home, forged new partnerships with organisations who believe, as we do, in the power of books and refocused our work on providing support for teachers and librarians remotely.
This year, in everything we do, we will focus on those who face the greatest barriers to reading and learning – particularly women and girls and people who have been forced from home.
In the places where it’s hardest to become a doctor or where teachers struggle to encourage children to dream big, that’s where we’re determined to put the power of books in people’s hands.
To support these readers, we will continue to grow our partner network – particularly outside of Africa – and we will do more to reach children who are struggling to catch up in school. We know that partnership is key, so we will expand the remote training we developed during Covid, offering an expanded training programme that will enable our partners can do more to support readers in their own communities.
We will aim to increase the number of books we send this year to 1.1 million and grow our investment in the purchase of locally published books, giving more children access to rich and diverse book collections.
It will no doubt be challenging to reach these goals – but we know that achieving them is how our work can make the greatest difference. And so as we begin a New Year, I hope that you will join us in reaching out to readers worldwide by becoming a partner, a book donor or a financial supporter.
Every book is a bridge away from inequality and towards a fairer, brighter future – and together, we can share the power of books with millions around the world.