Tag Archives: books for schools

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.


Donkey library

Getting books to rural communities

We are proud to support libraries in a range of environments across sub-Saharan Africa, including some that are so remote that they are inaccessible by motor vehicles.

Dr Obadiah Moyo, founder of the Rural Libraries & Resources Development Programme (RLRDP), shares how his organisation is transporting brand new books, donated by Book Aid International, to some of Zimbabwe’s most remote communities using donkey libraries.


The organisation I founded (RLRDP) establishes and supports libraries in rural communities here in Zimbabwe, many of which experience extreme poverty. Work is in short supply and those who do work are often farm workers or miners, barely earning enough money to keep their families fed.

“We believe that to pull these rural communities out of poverty we need to surround children with books and knowledge, and give them the tools they need to improve their lives.”

Reaching these communities can be challenging – some we reach by truck, some by bicycle and some, the most rural, by donkey. Donkeys are used in Zimbabwe in many ways, from getting children to school to fetching water, and many years ago I asked myself ‘why can’t we use them to get books into schools’?


Queen's Mine Primary


In 1995 I piloted the first donkey-drawn mobile cart library and I’m proud that today we have 15 carts delivering books to rural schools. Each cart can carry up to 1,200 books and the majority of these are provided by Book Aid International.

The donkeys are donated by members of the community, and villagers actually compete to ensure their donkeys are used because they know they are advancing education within their local community, and this brings prestige.

The evidence of this advancement is clear for all to see. In one school we support, Inyathi Secondary School, a strong reading culture has developed among students and O-Level pass rates have soared, from just 6% in 2009 to 75% last year! Children who use the library every day are now dreaming of their future careers and opportunities.


Amanda at Inyathi


When the cart is approaching a school, the excitement from the children is wonderful to see as they rush out to greet it. But it isn’t simply a case of unloading the cart and moving on. The cart stays for the whole day; the children explore the books, sharing what they’ve read, and local storytellers from the community come to bring stories to life. It really is a day to spread the concept of reading and to develop the reading culture we are all working towards.

The books that Book Aid International send are far ranging – from phonics books to help children learn to read, to educational books which help them pass their exams and storybooks to inspire a lifelong love of reading – but what they all have in common is that they can help to improve the lives of the children living in Zimbabwe’s rural communities.


Emhlangi Primary School


Find out more about our work in Zimbabwe and the mobile libraries we support below.


Dedame school

Literacy: a life-changing chance for children in Zambia

Our partner Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) provides quality schooling and education for children  who cannot attend government schools. Often, children in Zambia miss out on their opportunity to attend government school, either because the nearest school is too far away or because their families cannot afford school uniforms or exercise books. We partner with them in this work by donating brand new books to ensure community schools have libraries that are well stocked with new and relevant books. Cleo Muma, Programme and Advocacy Manager at ZOCS tells us how the books are used in the schools and the difference they make to the students.

Kububa Community School is located in Mayukwayukwa Refugee Camp in Kaoma District in the Western Province of Zambia. The school has a total of 544 learners, both boys and girls. The school has 12 untrained Community School teachers, four classrooms and currently caters for Early Childhood Education through to grade 7.

In Zambia, English is taken as a subject in early grades and young children are taught in their local language, which in this area is Lozi. From Grade 5 onwards though, English becomes the language of instruction in almost all subjects so it’s important that learners are slowly introduced to English during their education up to this point. Unless this happens, the transition to English as the language of instruction can be very challenging and it’s a time when many children drop out of school.

Until recently, Kububa Community School lacked the appropriate learning materials to introduce children in early grades to English and as a result learners had little understanding of English when they had to make the full transition in Grade 5.

In 2015, Kububa Community School’s dream of improving their literacy levels came to reality when Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) visited the school and distributed books from Book Aid International. The books are colourful, simple phonics books, designed to help young readers learn the basics of spelling and building words in English. By using these simple books, children were able to identify, sound out, read and write simple words in English after just a term in school.

ZOCS - children reading

“Phonics provides the key that unlocks the mystery of reading and education is the greatest equaliser in life” says Dorcus, who is one of the children at Kububa Community School.

Teachers are now encouraging children to apply themselves to their reading. They give prizes such as sweets or even applause from the rest of the class for children who are making the most effort to improve in their reading.

ZOCS - books handed out

“Children need to have a good grasp of phonics in order to learn to read and write. They need to know their letter sounds and how to segment and blend. Phonics teaching has proved to be easier than the schemes we were using before. We thank Book Aid International and ZOCS who have deliberately chosen to complement Government efforts of improving literacy levels in all communities.” Mr. Chikwekwe, Refugee Camp Co-ordinator.

Kububa Community School students are now some of the most confident, vibrant and enthusiastic children in the district and their literacy rates have improved greatly.

We are proud to be able to support ZOCS in their important work to bring education to vulnerable children in Zambia. Last year we sent 28,505 new books to ZOCS for use in schools. You can find out more about our work with ZOCS in this short film or by reading Cleo’s story of her work with the organisation.