Tag Archives: Africa

Children reading in Mathare, Kenya

June Book of the Month

Our latest Book of the Month is:

Ancient African Town


This fascinating book, filled with detailed illustrations and teeming with information, will be an absorbing read for any child and a welcome school resource for teachers and pupils alike.

Overview of the town

Based on the 17th century town of Benin located in present-day Nigeria, the book takes the reader on a tour of the ancient town from key sites including the royal palace and shrine to the metalcasters’ and brassworkers’ wards, the market and even the storytellers’ corner often found in the market. One of the most popular stories from Benin is included.

The ‘time traveller’s guide’ section gives readers an insight into local customs and culture and includes information on when to visit, how to travel around the town, what to eat and how to pay. In addition there are ‘guided tours’ – sections which take the reader on an imaginary tour of the local countryside, farms and villages or the royal palace. A perfect tool for a librarian or teacher to bring the ancient city to life for young learners.

Villages and farms

This engaging and information-packed book will be a great resource for use both by teachers in the classroom as well as pupils in their studies. Children will also enjoy pouring over it in their spare time as they read for pleasure.

It is captivating non-fiction books like this can spark a love of reading and discovery in young children and we hope that this one will go on to do just that. Copies will soon be heading to partners including WE-CARE in Liberia.


Kissy Library readers

In pictures: Sierra Leone’s new Children’s Corners

Schools are closed for the holidays but the library is not! The children are making very good use of the library. This is what a vibrant library should be like.


We’ve been working with the Sierra Leone Libary Board to create Children’s Corners – brightly painted, child-friendly spaces in libraries, filled with brand new children’s books, child size furniture and staff trained in working with children – in five libraries in Sierra Leone.

Librarians from each library have participated in training, the library spaces have been refurbished, the books have arrived and the Children’s Corners are now open – or very close to opening.

The children are delighted with their new spaces as are the librarians that run them.

Here we display some of the photos the librarians have been sharing with us showing the development of their Corners and how they are being used.


Makeni Regional Library


Makeni Children's Corner
Children enjoy a story-reading session at Makeni Regional Library


Port Loko District Library

Mr Mansaray, a community teacher, voluntarily teaches class four and five pupils at our library. He uses Book Aid International Books to engage the children with spelling.


Kissy Branch Library

Kissy Children's Corner
Sierra Leone Library Board staff take a look at the progress of Kissy Branch Library’s transformation


Bo City Library

A positive change of attitude has started towards reading by children and especially contributing to the uplifting standard of education in my beloved country. August is the month of heavy rains in Sierra Leone and most people prefer to stay home but the case is different in our libraries as these books from Book Aid International draw them out to the libraries. Thank you so very much.

– Theresa Wusha-Conteh, Sierra Leone Library Board


Rwanda shipment being loaded

MEDIA RELEASE: Book Aid International begins supporting Rwanda

Book Aid International is pleased to announce that it is expanding its work to provide brand new books to communities in Rwanda. Today, the charity sent 31,801 books to support readers in libraries, schools and further education institutions across the country.

In recent years, Rwanda has experienced strong economic growth which has been accompanied by a substantial improvement in living standards. This has seen a two-thirds drop in child mortality and near-universal enrolment in primary education.[i] Despite this progress, 63% of the population in Rwanda still live on less $1.25 a day.[ii]

The lack of a national library service in Rwanda means that many communities are unable to access the life-changing opportunities books offer, such as developing skills, starting businesses and enabling lifelong learning.

The books we are sending will support some of Rwanda’s many volunteer-run community libraries. These are almost always managed by members of the local community who have often taken it upon themselves to create a library in their area. These libraries serve the whole community and particularly those who cannot access traditional learning opportunities.

Book Aid International’s Chief Executive, Alison Tweed, talked about the charity’s work in Rwanda saying:

“Having visited Rwanda myself and met some of the volunteers who give up their time to run community libraries I am delighted that we are now working in partnership with the Kigali Public Library to provide brand new books for the users of the community libraries. Thanks to the generosity of our partners in the book trade, we can provide brand new books to libraries, schools and further education institutions throughout the country, books which will undoubtedly be a huge boost for readers across Rwanda.”

The charity’s initial shipment of 31,801 books was shipped today and included early learning and children’s books, higher education texts and medical and healthcare books as well as titles covering technical and vocational skills to support further education.

The charity’s initial work in Rwanda is funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Book Aid International would like to thank players for their generous support.

To find out more about Book Aid International and its expanding work to reach those who face the greatest barriers to accessing books and reading, visit www.bookaid.org.


[i] World Bank Open Data, Rwanda

[ii] World Economic Forum on Africa, 2016



For further information and comment please contact Emma Taylor, Head of Communications at Book Aid International.

e: emma.taylor@bookaid.org
t: 020 7326 5800

About Book Aid International

Book Aid International is the UK’s leading international book donation and library development charity. Every year, the charity ships around one million books to thousands of libraries in communities where people have very few opportunities to access books.

Book Aid International works with an extensive network of libraries, schools, hospitals, NGOs and other partners to ensure that the books it sends reach those who are most in need. In addition, it also run library development projects which build the capacity of librarians to support readers and communities.

The charity only sends books at the request of its library partners. These books are carefully selected by our UK team led by professional librarians to ensure that they the needs of local communities.

All of the books sent by Book Aid International are donated by the UK book trade so they are all new.

Visit www.bookaid.org for more information or join the conversation on twitter: @book_aid


About People’s Postcode Lottery

  • People’s Postcode Lottery is a charity lottery. Players play with their postcodes to win cash prizes, while raising money for charities and good causes across Great Britain and globally
  • A minimum of 30% goes directly to charities and players have raised £205.1 Million for good causes across the country
  • £10 for 10 draws paid monthly in advance with prizes every day. For further prize information visit: www.postcodelottery.co.uk/prizes
  • Maximum amount a single ticket can win is 10% of the draw revenue to a maximum of £400,000
  • Players can sign up by Direct Debit, credit card or PayPal online at www.postcodelottery.co.uk, or by calling 0808 10-9-8-7-6-5
  • Postcode Lottery Limited is regulated by the Gambling Commission under licences Number: 000-000829-N-102511-013 and Number: 000-000829-R-102513-012. Registered office: Titchfield House, 69/85 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4RR
  • People’s Postcode Lottery manages multiple society lotteries promoted by different charities. For details on which society lottery is running each week, visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk/society
  • This prize was part of the draw promoted by CLIC Sargent

Nixon Memorial Hospital students

New life for Nixon Memorial Hospital

In 2016, with the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we began sending books to Sierra Leone to support the country as it rebuilds after the devastating Ebola crisis which killed nearly 4,000 people between 2014 and 2016.

Sierra Leone’s health infrastructure was weak before the epidemic. It was significantly weakened by a ten year civil war from 1991 to 2002 and Ebola has weakened it further. Many medical professionals lost their lives to the disease.

To aid the country’s recovery, we have had a particular focus on sending medical books to practising professionals and medical students. 6,000 of those books were received by Practical Tools Initiative (PTI), a charity which specialises in supporting post-conflict communities. In this blog, PTI explains how the books we provide are helping a major medical nursing college train the nurses of tomorrow.

PTI logo

In April 2016 we began a partnership with Book Aid International with the aim of delivering high-quality textbooks to extremely deprived post-war and post-Ebola health and educational institutions and prisons in Sierra Leone. Within weeks of signing the partnership agreement, we received the first consignment of over 6,000 books. 1,000 of those books reached the Nixon Memorial Hospital in Segbwema, Eastern Sierra Leone.


Nixon Memorial Hospital
The books were presented to the hospital management at a special ceremony


The hospital has a fascinating history. In the 1930s a British missionary and his wife were stationed at Segbwema, Eastern Sierra Leone. Word spread that the minister’s wife was a nurse. People started to come to their house for help and their veranda became a clinic.

It was around 1950 when Alderman John Nixon, previously Lord Mayor of Newcastle, approached the officers of the Methodist Missionary Society to offer to donate money for medical services to a needy place in the developing world in memory of his wife who had recently died. The need to significantly develop the hospital in Segbwema was suggested and a large amount of money was provided and that’s how the highly commended nursing school also came into being.

“The hospital was widely acclaimed throughout Sierra Leone, but then in 1990 came the devastation and pointless destruction of the 10 years of war. There was massive destruction and the staff had to flee for their lives into the bush.”

Ever since the war, the hospital has been struggling. It has been severely underfunded, even though the nursing school produces over 75% of nurses for the entire eastern region of the country.

In 2015 the government told the hospital management that unless they improved their library with modern books and computers, the nursing school would be closed. This was a very serious threat and the hospital management had no means of replenishing the nursing school’s library with contemporary books and computers. We have been working with the hospital for just over a year. It was at this point that we approached Book Aid International.

We made no promise to the hospital committee until the books and computers were at our centre in Kenema. Book Aid International provided the books and we sourced the computers from other places.

Nixon Memorial Hospital
Students with their new learning resources

A few weeks after delivering the 1,000 textbooks, five computers and medical equipment, we sent out four UK medical volunteers (three nurses and one IT expert) to provide teaching support to the nursing school and help set-up their IT system and medical equipment.

The textbook support from Book Aid International was a reprieve for the nursing school, and without doubt, the hospital itself. All 260 students training to be nurses will no doubt benefit from them!


We would like to thank Practical Tools Initiative for highlighting the Nixon Memorial Hospital’s story and we wish all the nurses studying there all the best!

We are proud to have supplied over 91,000 books to Sierra Leone, many of which are helping health professionals get back to work following the Ebola crisis. Healthcare professionals have a particular need for up to date books and often face special barriers in accessing them as they are very expensive. We are working to reach more health professionals as part of our Vision for 2020. Find out more and how you can get involved using the links below.



January Book of the Month

Our first Book of the Month for 2017 is a delightful children’s picture book by Richard Byrne:

We're in the Wrong Book!
We’re in the Wrong Book! by Richard Byrne


The book starts as a book about Ben and Bella jumping along a pavement. Then Bella’s dog joins in and “accidentally bumps them both off the page”. They find themselves in a completely different story and Ben and Bella have to find their way back to their own book through the pages of others.


We're in the Wrong Book! insides


Along the way they encounter counting books and comic books and meet a librarian who isn’t very good at her job. When they describe their book as having “tall buildings and an enormous dog”, she sends them to the history section and into a book about ancient Egyptian pyramids.


We're in the Wrong Book! insides


Eventually, via puzzle books, fairytales and a book of instructions that teaches them how to make a paper boat, they float and fly into a tunnel that leads them back to the pavement on the pages of their own book.


We're in the Wrong Book! insides


This funny story is a great way to introduce children to the different types of books they can find in a library. In addition, its subversion of the usual rules of how a book ‘works’ is a wonderful way to spark children’s imaginations, especially when it comes to their own storytelling.

We’re in the Wrong Book! is being sent to our partner Sierra Leone Library Board to use as a school prize as part of their International Literacy Day celebrations. We hope the winners enjoy this book and it gives readers the desire to explore their school libraries further – and come up with some equally imaginative stories of their own!