UK-donated and locally published books inspire reading for 56,000 children
Date published: 8 August 2022
“Certainly, books give people the power to change their lives”
Book Aid International’s African Story Box programme is set to give 56,000 African primary school children the chance to read both locally published and UK-donated storybooks in their classrooms thanks to support from the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund and players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Each school participating in the programme receives a book box with a carefully curated collection of 200 storybooks and a manual to support teachers in encouraging reading for pleasure.100 of those books are donated from the UK and are selected to reflect a wide range of stories from around the world. The remaining 100 are locally published and are purchased through a grant provided by Book Aid International.
African Story Box launched in March in Zimbabwe, where Book Aid International is working in close partnership with International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY) Zimbabwe. IBBY’s Chairperson, Virginia Phiri, commented on the importance of the programme:
“The African Story Box project is a brilliant idea. Schools here usually have no libraries and parents are struggling with the cost of living and school fees. They cannot afford to buy books. I know that books are important. There were no children’s books in the black township where I grew up during the apartheid era, but I borrowed books from my uncle. If I had never had access to those books, I would not have become a successful accountant, author, environmentalist and human rights defender. Certainly, books give people the power to change their lives – and this project will help children be well prepared for life as adults.”
Getrude Katena, the headmistress at Selborne Routledge School in Harare, Zimbabwe spoke of the importance of encouraging children to see reading as a joy, not a chore:
“With textbooks, you are almost forcing the child to read because she has to do something at the end – probably a comprehension exercise. When it’s a storybook, the child reads the book by themselves because they want to know what happens next. Children will realise it’s not just about reading for comprehension and that there’s more to learn from books.”
Book Aid International is grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for funding the African Story Box pilot in Zimbabwe and to the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund for supporting the programme’s expansion across Ghana, Uganda and Zimbabwe. 56,000 children in 76 schools will benefit from the project.
The charity’s Head of Programmes Samantha Thomas-Chuula said: “It’s so important that all children have the chance to develop a love of reading early, so we want children to have access to stories from near and far that ignite their excitement about reading. We’ve always funded the purchase of locally published books for exactly that reason, but this is the first time we’ve worked with our partners to carefully curate storybook collections for schools designed to encourage reading for pleasure. We’d like to thank our partners for their input and their creative energy.”
Last year, Book Aid International funded the purchase of 45,190 locally published books.
To find out more about the African Story Box programme visit https://bookaid.org/what-we-do/enriching-education/african-story-box/
To hear more from Virginia visit: https://bookaid.org/stories-from-near-and-far-for-40-zimbabwe-schools/
Notes to editors
Please find a selection of images and the Book Aid International logo here: https://bookaid.dash.app/sharing/type/collection/3accw-african-story-box-images
Please credit Cynthia R Matonhodze/Book Aid International when using all photos
Interviews and further information
Virginia is available for interview. To speak to her, please contact Emma Taylor:
About Book Aid International
Book Aid International works to share the power of books and help create a more equal world.
The charity provides over one million new books every year in the places where they will make the biggest difference and sets up libraries, trains people to run them and works with its partners to spark a love of reading.
Together with its partners worldwide, Book Aid International provides books everywhere from refugee camps, prisons and hospitals to remote schools where there has never been a library before.
All of the books the charity provides from the UK are donated by publishers, and Book Aid International receives no government grants or support. To find out more or to help send the next book visit bookaid.org.
Book Aid International is a registered charity in England and Wales. Charity number 313869.