Six girls on the books they love
When girls have the chance to read, their worlds grow. In this blog, our Head of Programmes Samantha Thomas-Chuula introduces us to six girls who have all found something very special on the pages of a book you helped to send.
Boys and girls going to school is a scenario that most of us view as right and proper. We are encouraged to see children both having access to education and reaching their full potential.
But in many countries where we work, this scenario does not always exist. In some cultures, girls being educated is not seen as valuable as boys being educated, so she may not attend school or be encouraged to excel in the same way as he.
Girls may bear the brunt of chores at home – limiting her time to do homework and affecting how well she performs overall. It may not be safe for girls to walk the route to school for fear of gender violence along the way and an early marriage may be planned for a girl, shortening the experience of education.
These are complex and challenging life circumstances that form the daily reality for some girls.
These barriers prevent girls from enjoying and benefiting from education in a way that boys do. But as girls navigate their way through them the availability of books – either found at school or in a community library, can play a small role in encouraging them to thrive in a variety of ways.
As we will see from the girls we have met, books provide the obvious learning support to education as they experience it, but also, a range of books provide relief, escapism, and laughter.
They have provided girls with a connection with their local environment helping them make sense of the world and their role in it as Madalo describes below. They can help raise self-esteem and confidence as Joyce describes. They can supply moments of joy and pleasure with friends or alone as described by Tenzin and Archange. With your support, we can reach more girls like them in the years ahead.
Name: Praise Kadyamkoni
Location: Lower Dedza, Malawi
Favourite book: Little Monkey by Maria Altes
In Praise’s community, most families struggle to make a living from small-scale farming. Buying books would be impossible for her family even if her rural community wasn’t many miles from the nearest bookshop. They simply couldn’t afford it. But thanks to the Solar Library prorgamme, she has access to a rich school library and solar lights so that she can read at school and at home.
My favourite book is Little Monkey because it is wonderful. The monkey is in the jungle!
Name: Madalo Mphonde
Location: Chilumba, Malawi
Favourite book: Beginning Fiction Skills by John Jackman
Madalo’s only opportunity to read comes from the small school library we established in partnership with African Parks to support education and conservation through our Reading Around the Reserve programme. She sees those books as vital to her future:
We have benefited from the books because the books have pictures which help us understand the topic or story learnt in class thereby improving our listening and reading skills.
“For example, I enjoy reading a book titled “Beginning Fiction Skills”. It is my favourite because of the story of Duncan, who was given a tree house as a birthday gift. It reminded me that trees are a source of timber and poles for construction. People at Chilumba are aware of the importance of trees, so we do not cut down trees carelessly.”
With thanks to Players of People’s Postcode Lottery for funding Reading Around the Reserve in Malawi.
Name: Beatrice Adusei
Location: Atonsu, Ghana
Favourite book: Spot and Say by Julia Donaldson
Beatrice’s family cannot afford to buy books for her. That’s why we work with the Ghana Library Authority to make sure that her local library is stocked with inviting, engaging books to help her begin to love reading:
The library is my happy place. My favourite book is Spot and Say by Julia Donaldson. The book features all animal characters and their habitat. The pictures are beautiful!
© Ghana National Library Authority
Name: Joyce Atimbeo
Location: Atokutin, Ghana
Favourite book: Jack and the Beanstalk by Gill Munton and Constanze von Kitzing
Joyce loves to read anything she can lay her hands on from paper used as food wrappers to story books she can borrow from her school’s small library stocked with books donated by Book Aid International. She dreams of becoming a nurse in future to serve the sick in her community.
Reading has helped me improve on my sense of confidence and boosted my knowledge of the world.
“It has helped me to develop my vocabulary. At the moment I particularly like this story about little Jack. He sold their only cow for three beans that later changed the fortunes of his family!”
With thanks to Players of People’s Postcode Lottery for funding the set-up of Joyce’s library.
Name: Tenzin Rigsel Wangmo
Location: Changjiji, Bhutan
Favourite book: While we Can’t Hug by Eoin McLaughlin
Tenzin first came to her local library when she was eight. She was a struggling reader then who was reading below her class level. But with the support of library team, she’s become a full-fledged book lover!
I loved this book so much I even asked my friends to borrow it and read it.
“I like this book because even though the tortoise is not able to hug his best friend, the Hedgehog, there are so many things they still do together like writing letters, singing and painting to show each other their love. These are also some of the things that my best friends and I do that makes us happy.”
Name: Archange Iragi
Location: Kampala, Uganda
Favourite book: Why the giraffe has a long neck by Edward Gakuya and Claudia Lloyd
Archange was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but her family fled ongoing violence. Today, she goes to school alongside Ugandan children. Reading can help children process trauma and support refugees to catch up in their learning, so we’re investing in libraries for refugees across Africa. For Archange, her school library has helped her begin a lifetime of reading for pleasure.
“My favourite book is ‘why the giraffe has a long neck.’ I chose this book because of the good words. The best part is when the animals pull and pull and then they say ‘Oh no! Look how long giraffe’s neck has got!’”
I like that the elephant helping the giraffe. Helping is good.
© Jesuit Refugee Services, Uganda
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