Tag Archives: London Book Fair

Join us at The London Book Fair 2021

We’d love for you to join us at this year’s London Book Fair! The fair will be online between Tuesday 21st June and Thursday 1st July 2021 and we are delighted to announce our seminar at 9:30am on Thursday 24th June. 

This seminar, titled ‘Closing the gap: Why access to books matters for children around the world’, will bring together President of The International Publishers Association, Bodour Al Qasimi, editor-at-large at Pushkin Children’s Books Sarah Odedina, Chair of IBBY UK Pam Dix, award-winning writer Sita Brahmachari and our very own Chief Executive Alison Tweed to discuss why children may be without books, how these challenges can be overcome and why access to children’s books is part of creating a fairer future for millions. 

Tickets are available via The London Book Fair Website.

Event description:

Access to books is not always easy, especially for children affected by poverty, who live far from the nearest city or town and for those who have been forced to flee their homes. Without the opportunity to read, these children will be less able to succeed in school, become literate and realise their full potential, so creating access to books for all children is a vital step towards a fairer future.

The panel will be discussing a range of innovative and creative solutions being developed to give every child the opportunity to read – including efforts to bring books to children who have fled war and how shipping containers are being transformed into thriving community libraries.

Secondary school student in Kakuma

Girls succeeding through books and lamps in Kakuma

Our Solar Homework Club project in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp recently won the Educational Initiatives category of London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards.

London Book Fair award

Getting a good education in Kakuma is hard. Schools are oversubscribed and vastly under-resourced. Teachers are largely students’ only source of information. In addition, without electricity at home, pupils’ time to read, revise and complete homework ends when it gets dark.

The Solar Homework Club project aims to remove some of these barriers to reading and learning by providing solar lamps and new curriculum support books and novels for secondary school students to borrow and use to support their studies after school.

The project is making a particular difference for girls in the camp. Here, female students and staff from Morneau Shepell Secondary School for Girls, Vision Secondary School and Somali Bantu Secondary School tell us more:

 

Kakuma friends
Three friends from Morneau Shepell Secondary School for Girls with big ambitions for the future

 

What are the challenges you face living in Kakuma Refugee Camp?

Yvonne, school librarian: We are not allowed to move outside the refugee camp – you have to seek permission and you should have a very good reason to go. You cannot just say ‘I want to see a new place’ – it is not acceptable since we are refugees. So we are confined in the camp.

Fortune, student: That is why education is important – it can give us the opportunity to leave the camp.

… few families are like our families … They keep their daughters at home to cook and fetch water.

Amia, student: My parents are happy that I am in school. But few families are like our families. They do not know the importance of education. They keep their daughters at home to cook and fetch water.

Martha, student: Many other girls don’t live with parents. They are the mother and father of their siblings. They cook for their brothers and sisters. Many times, they have to do assignments in the morning when they come to school.

Yvonne: We also face security issues like assault. You can’t walk around in the camp. The camp has small roads and lots of bushes where people can hide. So if you are a girl walking around at night, you can be raped.

Kakuma school library
Choosing books from Kakuma Secondary School’s library

Why do you think it is important to have books to support your studies?

Amia: Before the teacher comes to class you have to go through the book and look at the topic. When the teacher comes, you understand more. But if there are no books you cannot get the first-hand information that you want. It can lower your grade.

Yvonne: From my childhood I have seen people succeeding through education – and you get education through books.

Reading science books in the library
Referring to science books at Morneau Shepell Secondary School for Girls in Kakuma

How are the new books helping?

Aisha, student: The books are good for revision as they have clear pictures, e.g. biology and chemistry books.

Nyamal, student: The books have helped. I like reading the books with pictures as it helps me understand better.

Irene, school principal: Before, we never had a single novel in the school. Now, students read a lot during ‘quiet time’ time every day.

The books are good for revision as they have clear pictures.

Flyann, student: The English books help us build vocabulary … I find them very good. I want to be a student of literature.

Amia: The storybooks also have words of encouragement because most of the books talk about students who faced challenges and were successful in the end. They give us motivation!

And how are the solar lamps helping?

Student: The lamps have enabled us to expand prep time at night as well as do early morning reading. The lights also help us to have group discussion in the dormitories after preps.

Kadurenge, school principal: The solar lamps have helped reduce time walking to school and back at night for preps, giving them more time to read at home. Girls are especially grateful to be able to do homework at home every night. There is improvement in performance.

The lamps have enabled us to expand prep time at night as well as do early morning reading.

Zaki male student: Girls with lights read and perform well.

Amia: We have maximum time for revisions and so I get good grades. My parents are very happy about it and know that I will become successful.

Working hard in class at Vision Secondary School

What are your hopes for the future?

Nyaneng, student: I come to school to fulfil my dream of becoming an engineer in order to support my country.

Anisa, student: I want to change my life to a new one through education. I want to become a teacher to teach the  next generation.

Yvonne: I have read about women who have succeeded. I believe I can succeed too.

I have read about women who have succeeded. I believe I can succeed too.

Many thanks to Intouch Global Foundation for their generous support of our Solar Homework Club project.

Kakuma school

Refugee project WINS London Book Fair award!

We are thrilled to announce that our Solar Homework Club project in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp has WON the Educational Initiatives category of London Book Fair‘s International Excellence Awards!

It’s a great honour to receive this recognition for our Solar Homework Club project, which seeks to support secondary education in Kakuma by supplying brand new books and solar lamps so students can continue studying after dark.

Our vision is of a world where everyone has access to the books that will enrich, improve and change their lives and nowhere is this more important than in places like Kakuma, where education support is so desperately needed.

We would like to extend a very big thank you to the publishers who donate the books we send – it is thanks to them that we can undertake ambitious projects like this one, which aims to remove some of the particular barriers to reading faced by people in refugee settings.

Many thanks also to the Intouch Global Foundation for their funding and partnership on our solar projects.

The International Excellence Awards celebrate the wealth of success and innovation in the world’s publishing activity outside the UK. The category our project won – the Education Initiatives category – awards innovative and exciting new initiatives that increase education provision and effectiveness and provide wider access to learning.

Read on to find out more about our award-winning project!

Typical scenes in Kakuma Refugee Camp

Getting a good education in Kakuma Refugee Camp is incredibly hard.

Life in Kakuma is isolated and challenging. Residents are not allowed to leave the camp without special permission and are subject to curfews. In addition, homes do not have electricity and it is dangerous for females to go out after dark. For many, education is their only hope of leaving the camp and pursuing a better life.

Students share a book
Students share the few books available to revise and learn.

But getting a good education in Kakuma is hard. Schools are oversubscribed and vastly under-resourced. There just two one-room community libraries for the entire 149,000 population and prior to our intervention only a few schools had a library resource. These libraries contain only a few textbooks and curriculum books and in most schools, teachers are largely students’ only source of information.

Without electricity at home, pupils’ time to revise, and complete homework or assignments is curtailed when it gets dark.

Solar Homework Clubs are improving educational attainment at secondary schools in Kenyas Kakuma Refugee Camp through the provision of books and solar lamps.

Solar Homework Clubs have created Solar Libraries filled with new publisher-donated revision guides, supplementary textbooks and fiction and solar lamps in each of the camp’s six secondary schools. In addition, teachers have been trained in using the books to improve students’ study skills, exam preparation techniques and how to run a lending library.

 

By borrowing lamps and books, students are able to continue their studies at home after dark and maximize learning through the up-to-date resources. Already teachers report that students are better able to complete their assignments on time.

The books and lamps are also improving the quality of education as teachers are also using them, giving them more resources and extended hours to prepare lessons. Previously, they were trying to do this during busy teaching days.

Solar Homework Clubs invest in the most vulnerable

Studying outside of school hours is hard especially for girls and child-headed households (young people who looking after siblings without parents) as they often have to use available daylight in the morning and after school for chores such as cooking, collecting firewood and fetching water. Access to lamps is especially valuable for these children who in spite of their circumstances and busy schedules, are determined to succeed. They report that the lamps are enabling them to study at night once they have finished their chores and also in the mornings before dawn.

A young writer in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya
It is dangerous for girls to go out after dark so at night they must study at home at night.

Many of the teachers are themselves refugees and were not teachers in their home countries. These individuals are often professionals in other disciplines with a passion and drive to make a difference in spite of the challenges they face. They have taken part in short teacher training programmes but with little experience, it is hard for them to deliver the quality education that they and their schools aspire to.

Teacher training
Teachers learn how to run a lending library and use the books to prepare lessons.

The teacher training included in the Solar Homework Club programme gives teachers the chance to develop new skills. They learn how to manage a lending library, instill study skills in their students and teach revision techniques. Two teachers and the head teacher at each school takes part in training.

Teachers report that these new skills have improved their confidence in their abilities and the training is already having a positive impact on students, as one teacher comments:

In a very short time, I was able to work with them on how to study and they got motivated and went on to study and formed study groups. In about four weeks they were able to perform miraculously. It was unimaginable that I raised my students’ mean grade from 2.2 to 3.3.

After the success of the project in Kakuma Refugee Camp, we are now working with Intouch Global Foundation and other partners to bring lamps and books into other communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

London Book Fair

London Book Fair

Following the cancellation of London Book Fair, we are disappointed to miss the opportunity to catch up with many of our publisher supporters.

Our work continues and we would still love to meet to discuss your ongoing support. If you would like to arrange a meeting, please get in touch.

Award shortlisting

We are thrilled that our Solar Homework Club project in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp was shortlisted for the Educational Initiatives Category of London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards!

We’d like to say a special thank you to Intouch Global Foundation for generously funding our Solar Homework Club project.

Find out more about the shortlisting and our Solar Homework Club project here.

Kakuma school

Refugee project shortlisted for London Book Fair award!

We are thrilled to announce that our Solar Homework Club project in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp has made the shortlist for the Educational Initiatives category of London Book Fair‘s International Excellence Awards!

The Educational Initiatives Awards celebrate the wealth of success and innovation in the world’s publishing activity outside the UK.

The category our project has been shortlisted for – the Education Initiatives category – awards innovative and exciting new initiatives that increase education provision and effectiveness and provide wider access to learning.

It’s a great honour to receive this recognition for our Solar Homework Club project, which seeks to support secondary education in Kakuma by supplying brand new books and solar lamps so students can continue studying after dark.

We would like to thank the publishers who generously donate the brand new secondary school books we send and Intouch Global Foundation for generously funding the project.

Read on to find out more about our shortlisted project.

Typical scenes in Kakuma Refugee Camp

Getting a good education in Kakuma Refugee Camp is incredibly hard.

Life in Kakuma is isolated and challenging. Residents are not allowed to leave the camp without special permission and are subject to curfews. In addition, homes do not have electricity and it is dangerous for females to go out after dark. For many, education is their only hope of leaving the camp and pursuing a better life.

Students share a book
Students share the few books available to revise and learn.

But getting a good education in Kakuma is hard. Schools are oversubscribed and vastly under-resourced. There just two one-room community libraries for the entire 149,000 population and prior to our intervention only a few schools had a library resource. These libraries contain only a few textbooks and curriculum books and in most schools, teachers are largely students’ only source of information.

Without electricity at home, pupils’ time to revise, and complete homework or assignments is curtailed when it gets dark.

Solar Homework Clubs are improving educational attainment at secondary schools in Kenyas Kakuma Refugee Camp through the provision of books and solar lamps.

Solar Homework Clubs have created Solar Libraries filled with new publisher-donated revision guides, supplementary textbooks and fiction and solar lamps in each of the camp’s six secondary schools. In addition, teachers have been trained in using the books to improve students’ study skills, exam preparation techniques and how to run a lending library.

 

By borrowing lamps and books, students are able to continue their studies at home after dark and maximize learning through the up-to-date resources. Already teachers report that students are better able to complete their assignments on time.

The books and lamps are also improving the quality of education as teachers are also using them, giving them more resources and extended hours to prepare lessons. Previously, they were trying to do this during busy teaching days.

Solar Homework Clubs invest in the most vulnerable

Studying outside of school hours is hard especially for girls and child-headed households (young people who looking after siblings without parents) as they often have to use available daylight in the morning and after school for chores such as cooking, collecting firewood and fetching water. Access to lamps is especially valuable for these children who in spite of their circumstances and busy schedules, are determined to succeed. They report that the lamps are enabling them to study at night once they have finished their chores and also in the mornings before dawn.

A young writer in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya
It is dangerous for girls to go out after dark so at night they must study at home at night.

Many of the teachers are themselves refugees and were not teachers in their home countries. These individuals are often professionals in other disciplines with a passion and drive to make a difference in spite of the challenges they face. They have taken part in short teacher training programmes but with little experience, it is hard for them to deliver the quality education that they and their schools aspire to.

Teacher training
Teachers learn how to run a lending library and use the books to prepare lessons.

The teacher training included in the Solar Homework Club programme gives teachers the chance to develop new skills. They learn how to manage a lending library, instill study skills in their students and teach revision techniques. Two teachers and the head teacher at each school takes part in training.

Teachers report that these new skills have improved their confidence in their abilities and the training is already having a positive impact on students, as one teacher comments:

In a very short time, I was able to work with them on how to study and they got motivated and went on to study and formed study groups. In about four weeks they were able to perform miraculously. It was unimaginable that I raised my students’ mean grade from 2.2 to 3.3.

After the success of the project in Kakuma Refugee Camp, we are now working with Intouch Global Foundation and other partners to bring lamps and books into other communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Pupils perform at International Literacy Day celebrations in Kenya

Spreading the joy of reading across the world

At London Book Fair, our Head of Programmes Samantha Thomas-Chuula joined Cheltenham Festivals’ Education Director Ali Mawle and The Royal Commonwealth Society Africa’s Regional Youth Coordinator Gideon Commey on a panel discussing the transformative effect that reading for pleasure can have on disadvantaged communities – and how to introduce more people to the joy of reading.

Here, we share some of the key takeaways from their conversation which was led by Jake Hope, Chair of the Youth Libraries Group.

 

Reading promotion panel
L-R Ali Mawle, Samantha Thomas-Chuula, Gideon Commey and Jake Hope

A love of reading in children and young people can be ignited by a love of reading in their teachers

Cheltenham Festivals’ innovative Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils scheme particularly targets communities where fewer children have reading role models at home. To overcome this challenge, the scheme gives teachers the skills and tools to become reading role models in the classroom. It creates networks of teachers’ reading groups, giving teachers the time and space to discuss the books they are reading. The idea is to ignite (or reignite) a love for books and reading in the teachers – which in turn impacts the children they teach.

Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils at Linden School
A teacher and pupils from Linden School discuss a book as part of the Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils scheme

It is not enough to just have books available – people need to know they are there and why they are useful.

When Book Aid International’s partners in Africa hold International Literacy Day celebrations, they invite people from all sections of the community to attend so they can see what the library and its books make possible, changing perceptions about reading and the library. Parents learn how they can support their children with reading, teachers are introduced to the fact that they can bring their class for reading activities. Libraries often report an increase in usage after these events.

Writing can also promote reading.

Reading plays a key part in entrants’ preparations for the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition. Young people are encouraged by their teachers to read more to improve their writing skills before they write their entry for the competition. In addition, taking part in the competition often increases young people’s determination to succeed and as a result, they are often more motivated to read.

The impact of giving the right book to the right child can be life changing.

Through Cheltenham Festivals’ Reading Teachers, Reading Pupils scheme, a pupil who was at risk of exclusion was introduced by his teacher to a book they thought he would enjoy and he was hooked! Today, he is still in school and has set up a lunchtime reading club with friends.

Reading aloud
A pupils reads aloud to her class in Ghana

Books and reading can empower young people to drive change.

The current generation of young people in Africa (where 60% of people are under 25) are a vibrant constituency who are working for change. In Ghana, many young people are setting up their own initiatives to give more people access to books. They are building libraries, creating mobile libraries, developing reading apps as well as simply visiting villages with books. Young people are realising how books have empowered them and are now seeking to give that same opportunity to more people.

Reading promotion events can empower librarians.

Reading promotion events not only change communities’ perceptions about the local library but the librarians that run them too. Local children point librarians out to their parents, teachers consult them for advice. This has a knock on effect – feeling more valued, librarians become more confident and approach their work with more creativity and innovation.

 

School pupils taking part in Kate Greenaway Shadowing
Every year, pupils in schools across the world read and discuss the books on the Carnegie and Greenaway Medal shortlists

Showing people the benefits of books and reading can bring change in various sections of a community.

As a result of attending reading promotion events or taking part in reading-focussed programmes, schools are setting up their own school libraries and asking their local libraries for help and advice; teachers are using books in their classrooms in new ways and libraries are even attracting additional funding from local government.

Do One Thing!

Everyone can Do One Thing, however small, to help promote reading in their community. Here are a few ideas:

  • Integrate books and reading into what you are already doing. If you’re a teacher, make your lessons more fun with books. If you hold an event, get local authors involved.
  • Get reading with children! There are many organisations that you can volunteer with such as Beanstalk.
  • Hold a ‘bookraise’ on Facebook in which people who have books they no longer need can pleage and donate them. Collect the books and distribute them to people and schools you identify as needing books.

We would like to thank Ali, Gideon and Jake for participating in the panel with us. You can find out more about Reading Teachers=Reading Pupils here, the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition here and the Youth Libraries Group here.

 

Ghanaian village

Gideon’s story

Meet Gideon Commey, Royal Commonwealth Society Africa’s Regional Youth Coordinator. Gideon grew up in rural Ghana attending a school with no access to books other than the textbook his teacher used in class. Today, he is studying for an MSc at University College London. He hopes to one day become a research activist advising the Ghanaian government on environmental policies.

Gideon believes in the power of books and he will be sharing some of his personal insights and experiences at our London Book Fair seminar discussing the transformative power that books can have on disadvantaged communities. He talked to us about how books helped him get to where he is today and how he believes books and initiatives like the RCS’s Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition can help change the lives of more young people across the world.

 

Gideon Commey
Gideon in our warehouse

I grew up in a village in Ghana, in the Brong Ahafo region which is more than 12 hours journey from Accra the capital city. All my basic education was in the village and I never got any books to read. Just a textbook in school and even then you don’t get hold of it– the teacher just teaches you from it. So you don’t read anything apart from the notes you take in class.

It is difficult for children growing up in the villages in Ghana. Even if a kid gets into school, a lot of schools are under-resourced – few learning materials, teachers who live too far away to travel to school every day. Yet they are supposed to write the same school examinations as children who are in the best schools. And how do you compete with them? You can’t, you are limited. Without reading something extra, you can’t do anything. Thousands of people [in Ghana] are limited because they can’t crack a book open.

 

Market in Accra
A market in Accra

How did things change for you?

My dad got transferred to Accra when I was about to enter high school. Because he was an Anglican Priest, he got me into an Anglican school called Adisadel College. I probably also got in because I performed well in the Basic Education Certificate Examination which I wrote in a local school in Accra. And that was the first time I was able to read a book. The first book I read from cover to cover was Things Fall Apart and I was almost 16.

I struggled for the three years that I was in that school because I didn’t have any foundation to build on – there was some basic things that I didn’t know. Even English construction. But I had an interest in books – I wanted to really know more. So I began to fall in love with books. Then, when I graduated and I went to the University of Ghana, that was where my life really changed because we had a huge library. You could spend hours reading.

Then, when I graduated and I went to the University of Ghana, that was where my life really changed because we had a huge library. You could spend hours reading.

It was amazing and I think that’s what shaped my life.

I had a very transforming experience in 2007– I went to Keta, a community in the Volta Region of Ghana and I saw sea level rise as a result of climate change. The sea had taken away a lot of housing but I didn’t understand the phenomenon. I came back to university to do some research on it and watched Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. That really inspired me to do something about the situation.

I read a lot of books and they transformed my thinking.

I founded the Ghana Youth Environment Movement to advocate on environmental sustainability and empower other young people with the tools to take action on behalf of the environment. I would say that was the vehicle of gaining a scholarship to study here in the UK because the scholarship was based on impact you have had in your local community, not just academic performance. It amazes me sometimes because of where I’ve come from. And it’s just because of reading books and getting to know more.

It amazes me sometimes because of where I’ve come from. And it’s just because of reading books and getting to know more.

Where do you think you would be now if you hadn’t had that opportunity to learn and read when you were younger?

Without books, today I’d probably be a hawker somewhere who thinks I am at the mercy of any political decision that happens around me, I can’t change anything. The hopelessness. Because I wouldn’t see beyond the walls of my environment, I’ll be stuck within that small space.

But books are universal. If you are able to grab it in a village in Ghana and somebody grabs it New York or London, you are on the same level. So they are really transforming.

As part of your role as RCS Africa’s Regional Youth Coordinator, you encourage young people to take part in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition. What difference do you see the competition –and books – making in the lives of young people in Ghana today?

I think the essay competition is a really very powerful tool. Before, all the entries in Ghana were from international schools. Last year was a breakthrough from us because some schools from the villages participated and they won prizes so that shows you the potential there. If they are getting the resources, they can compete with the best schools anywhere in the world.

I feel that these are the kids we want to get to in the villages [with the essay competition] because when those kids begin to read books it changes their world view, it empowers them. That kid may have no electricity at home, no opportunity to read the news or even listen to the radio but a book can give them the passion, the power, the ability to dream, at least about the solution to their problems and for me, that’s a good step.

That’s what the essay competition can do – it gets the opportunity out there for these children and motivates them.

What hopes do you have for their futures, especially those in rural communities?

I basically put myself in their shoes; how I went through the system. I don’t expect it to be easy for them but I think you use a very important word – hope. In the mist of uncertainty, it is the most important asset. The kids studying in international schools in Ghana are no better than village kids so I have very high aspirations for them. They want to become pilots, they want to become doctors, because that’s what they’ve read in books and they know it is possible. If I have been able to come from that background, then any kid anywhere that gets a little support can do the same. They will make it with hope, but we need to give them the opportunity to overcome their challenges and that is what things like the essay competition and access to books can do.

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is open to any young person aged 18 or under living in a Commonwealth country. Entries for this year’s competition close on 1st June. To find out more about the competition and how to enter, click here.

Thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we’re expanding our work in Ghana – providing more books for children across the country like Gideon. Player have provided £1.85m for our cause so far – and we cannot thank them enough for their support! Find out more

Header image: photo by Lapping on Pixabay.

 

London Book Fair seminar

Join us at London Book Fair!

Cheltenham Festivals and Book Aid International join forces to show the transformative power of reading in London Book Fair seminar.

If you’re heading to London Book Fair in March, don’t miss our seminar with Cheltenham Festivals’ Education team:

Sharing the transformative power of reading for pleasure in disadvantaged communities

When: 14:30 – 15:30, Thursday 14th March
Where: High Street Theatre

Our Head of Programmes Samantha Thomas-Chuula and Cheltenham Festivals’ Director of Education, Ali Mawle will be joined by the Regional Youth Coordinator for the Royal Commonwealth Society Africa, Gideon Commey. Together they will discuss practical ways that people and organisations in the broader book industry and beyond can work together to overcome the barriers to reading that exist in disadvantaged communities.

Chaired by reading development and children’s books consultant Jake Hope, the panel will share first-hand experiences as they will look at how reading promotion in all its forms from literature festivals and prestigious book awards to school reading initiatives and library book clubs, can keep reading for pleasure on a nation’s agenda and give more people and communities access to the transformational power of books.

For more information, visit the London Book Fair website.

 

London Book Fair

London Book Fair 2018

We will be at London Book Fair from 10th to 12th April 2018 on stand 4A03. If you will be there too do come and say hello!

Already a book donor? Visit us on stand 4A03 to find out more about the difference the books you donate are making to reading around the world.

Thinking about becoming a book donor? Pop by stand 4A03 to learn more about how it works and the readers you can support with your books.

 

Choosing books

 

Various members of the team will be attending the fair. If you’d like to meet with one of us to discuss book donations or how you can partner with us further, please contact Jenny Hayes to make an appointment.

 

Pupils at Korieama Primary School

2017 year in review: 20 countries in just twelve months

As 2017 draws to a close, we are looking back over the last twelve months and forward to 2018. In this blog, our Chief Executive Alison Tweed reflects on the highlights from 2017 and gives us a preview of the year ahead.

This has been a year of change for our team at Book Aid International as we focused on putting our Vision 2020: Where Books Change Lives strategy into action. Launched in March, our new strategy commits us to ensuring that the books we send reach those who face the greatest barriers to accessing books.

 

Boys reading
Two friends share a book at Battir Library in the West Bank

 

To begin making that vision a reality, we focused on establishing partnerships in new countries where people lack the books they need, as well as continuing to support all our more longstanding library and education partnerships.

The books we provided reached people in some of the most difficult to reach places in the world who are determined to keep reading in the face of instability and uncertainty about the future. We sent books to universities in Somalia, to transit camps in Greece, to schools for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and to the world’s youngest nation which continues to be gripped by conflict, South Sudan.

 

Pacifique leads a reading activity
Taking part in a reading activity at Esperance Community Centre’s library in Rwanda

 

We also doubled the number of books provided to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, sent books to the Caribbean island of Antigua to support people displaced from Barbuda and Dominica by Hurricane Irma and began sending books to Liberia, Rwanda, Ghana and The Gambia.

Inspiring Readers, Book Havens and more

In March of this year our flagship Inspiring Readers programme won the prestigious 2017 London Book Fair International Excellence Award in the category of Educational Initiatives. It was a fantastic boost for the programme which aims to bring books into the classrooms of 250,000 African primary school pupils by 2020.

 

Moi Primary readers
Pupils enjoy reading in class at Inspiring Readers school Moi Primary in Kenya

 

In 2017, we continued to expand the programme and today almost 89,000 pupils in Kenya, Cameroon and Malawi have books in their classrooms and trained teachers to help them discover how reading supports their learning.

Highlights of the year for me also included:

 

  • Helping reading and learning to flourish in Nairobi’s Mathare slum through our Book Havens project

 

Jason
Young reader Jason shows us his favourite place to read in his new Book Haven

 

  • Giving secondary school pupils in Zambia new resources to study and succeed in their exams by creating Study Hubs

 

Secondary school pupils using their study hub in Zambia
Secondary school pupils using books in their Study Hub at Choma Library

 

 

The people we reached

When I look back on 2017, more than anything I will remember the people who told us how the books we send are helping them to change their own lives.

I was particularly inspired by the words of 17 year old Lydia in Uganda who reminds us how determined people around the world are to read:

My dad always says ‘You shouldn’t go there, collecting books from there. Those books don’t help you.’ He doesn’t know how they help me. But my mum knows. She helps me go out to the library and get the books. I have already read all the fiction in the library – there are not enough now! We need more so we can keep learning. For me, I am going to be a writer, so I must keep reading!

[read more]

Lydia is just one of the estimated 24 million people who read the books we provide in any one year. We could not reach a single one of those readers without the new books that are so generously donated by publishers, the funds we receive from individuals, trusts and companies and the hard work of our volunteers. We would like to extend a very warm thank you to all of our supporters for all that you do.

Looking forward to 2018

In 2017 we sent over 930,000 books to a wide range of new and established partners.

In 2018 we are aiming to send up to 1.2 million books and we are expanding our warehouse operations in Camberwell to help us do just that.

 

Loading a shipment
Loading a shipment at our warehouse in London

 

We will also continue to implement our Inspiring Readers, Book Havens and Study Hub projects and we are currently exploring the next steps for our work providing e-books alongside print books for children.

We are very much looking forward to a year of new partnerships and new opportunities to reach those who need books most and we hope that you will join us as we continue to work toward a world where everyone has access to books that will enrich, improve and change their lives.