2018: More books than ever before

7th January 2019 | News

As 2019 begins, we are taking a look back at all you helped accomplish in 2018. What a year it was!

You helped to send 1,286,538 brand new books to readers in 25 countries. Those books will reach thousands of libraries, schools, hospitals, refugee camps and prisons where they will be available to millions of people from all walks of life.

In 2018 we made it a priority to reach people who have been forced to flee their homes or live with conflict. Through your generosity, we sent 7,000 books to support reconstruction in Mosul, Iraq, 30 mobile book box libraries full of 5,000 books to support children affected by the on-going conflict in Cameroon and 25,045 books to children struggling to learn in Syria.

Omar reading in his classroom in Idlib, Syria

When 12 year old Omar from Idlib in Syria found out that the books were on their way, he told us:

“I can’t believe it, are you really sending us new books? I am very excited to receive some new science books. I love science, especially finding out about the trees and the plants!”

With your help we were also able to expand our support for public and community libraries across Africa, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of brand new books are now available to all on the shelves of libraries. We forged new partnerships with national library services in The Gambia and Ghana.

Hayford Siaw, Executive Director of the Ghana Library Authority, and Book Aid International signing a partnership agreement.

We also increased our book donations to community libraries in Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda, providing access to books even in remote and isolated communities.

An excited young reader in Ethiopia

In 2018, the extraordinary generosity of a handful of leading publishers meant that we tripled the number of medical books that we provided to hospitals, medical colleges and universities: from 53,452 in 2017 to 154,299 in 2018. These high value books are far too expensive for our partners to buy where they are available at all. It is no exaggeration to say that these books can save lives. One Malawian midwife explained saying:

Working as a midwife here in Malawi in the remote area where I work – you are the obstetrician, the gynaecologist, the anaesthetist, the paediatrician. There are times that you are not sure what to do! A book does wonders because you can look and see how you can go about something.

In 2018 we continued our work creating and supporting school libraries, setting up 75 book box school libraries and training 150 teachers in how to use those books to enrich classroom learning.

Malawi reader
A reader picking out a book in a Malawian Inspiring Readers library

We also supported a school library in The Gambia for the first time, and were honoured when Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall visited and opened that school library. Her Royal Highness’ visit sent a message that learning, literacy and books are of the highest priority.

Gambia St Therese's School The Duchess meets readers
Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall speaking to Gambian students

In 2018, we created 16 Children’s Corners in public libraries and trained 38 librarians in how to support the youngest readers, giving thousands of children a wonderful, welcoming place to read.

Reading with a librarian
A librarian supports readers in a Zanzibar Children’s Corner

More people than ever before will have access to the books we provided in 2018 thanks to our network of NGO, library and school partners, which grew from 86 in 2017 to 96 in 2018, and thanks to our many generous supporters here in the UK.

Books arriving in Sierra Leone!

2018 was an extraordinary year and without supporters like you, none of it would have been possible. We welcomed new supporters in 2018, including renowned royal biographer, Robert Hardman, as a speaker for the first time at the launch of our new film ‘Reading Where the Wild Things Are in The Great Rift Valley’. The film celebrates the joy and magic of reading, and Robert’s words were a fitting launch.

In 2019 we hope to reach more readers than ever before – particularly those who face the greatest barriers to reading and learning, whether through war, displacement, discrimination or imprisonment. Together we can make that vision a reality.

Thank you for making 2018 such a special year. Here’s to what we can achieve together in 2019!