Tag Archives: reading promotion

Murkutwo Primary

Sharing the joy of reading

On Friday 8th September, people around the world came together to celebrate the gift of reading on International Literacy Day.

Literacy is an integral part of lifelong learning yet at least 750 million adults and youth globally cannot read or write and 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills [1]. Learning to read isn’t just about having access to books – you may have access to books but never make use of them if you are unaware of the benefits. That’s why, thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we worked with partners in 10 countries to put on special events to celebrate International Literacy Day and promote the value of reading to their wider communities.

Armed with brand new books for prizes, banners and posters to advertise their events and small gifts for giveaways, our partners ran a range of events to mark the big day and put reading on the map for their local communities.

From dancing and processions to reading competitions and local games, our partners celebrated the gift of reading in all sorts of ways:




Sierra Leone

Tonkolili Library Sierra Leone International Literacy Day celebrations
A reader takes a look at Tonkolili Library’s book display





As a result of these events, partners have already seen an increase in the number of people, especially school children, visiting their libraries and using the books in their collections. This is exactly what Reading Promotion events aim to achieve and we hope this trend continues in all the communities that celebrated the joy of books and reading on International Literacy Day.


[1] http://en.unesco.org/themes/literacy


International Literacy Day celebrations in Ethiopia

Reading Promotion 2016: Lessons and country reports

In 2016 Book Aid International launched a Reading Promotion campaign – a new project that would promote the local community and value of reading to local communities.

The vision of the campaign was to amplify the voice of our partners in favour of support for library services. We wanted to support libraries’ work promoting their services as vital resources to be used by all community members, to be valued by local authority and decision takers and be seen as valued resources in national development and educational agendas.

What we did

We provided prizes, funding, marketing materials and suggestions to libraries in five countries so that each library could run its own event on or around International Literacy Day, 2016 (September 8th).

We encouraged libraries to engage the local community and encourage reading amongst children so that all members of that community understood the importance of reading and use the day as an opportunity for the community to discover or rediscover the library.

We also suggested a range of literacy activities which libraries could run, competitions and games for children and parents alike to denote that reading as fun. In all cases, we also suggested that libraries invite the mass media, dignitaries and other guests of honour to capture the spirit of the event, showcase the activities on offer to a wider general audience and build support for their services.

Outcomes – Adults and children attending the events

Countries participated included: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In each country, the event was different to reflect the local challenges and opportunities that each community faced. We have summarised some of the key outcomes are highlighted below.


Country No. Adults attended No. Children attended/Participated
Cameroon 50 250
Ethiopia 200 100
Uganda 132 122
Zambia 49 131
Zimbabwe 92 114



Outcomes – mass media in attendance

Country Mass media support
Cameroon Vision 4 – radio and TV station

BBC Radio

The Post, The Sun, The Star, The Guardian Post, The voice newspapers

Ethiopia Ethiopian Herald newspaper

Brana Radio programme (FM 97.1)

Sierra Leone Africa Young Voices newspaper

New Vision newspaper

Uganda Invited but did not respond
Zambia Zambia Information Service (ZIS)

Radio Mano and Radio Lutanda

Zimbabwe Invited but did not respond


Each participating library prepared a report detailing what they did on the day. Click on the links below to read their reports.


Freetown library

Celebrating International Literacy Day in Sierra Leone

Jessica Faulkner, our Head of Communications, travelled to Sierra Leone earlier this month to visit the libraries and new projects that we have begun to support in 2016. While she was there, the Sierra Leone Library Board celebrated International Literacy Day (8th September) and Jessica went along to the celebrations in Freetown Central Library.

International Literacy Day is a chance for people around the world to celebrate the joy of reading and the opportunities it can bring. It is also a day to remember that there are still millions of people around the world who cannot read and whose future prospects are limited by this. For many of us, going without the sheer pleasure of reading a great book is hard to imagine.

The 21 libraries of the Sierra Leone Library Board have celebrated International Literacy Day for many years and 2016 was no different. This year, as we have just begun to support libraries in Sierra Leone, we were happy to supply a banner, posters, pencils and balloons for children to help the day go with a bang. Most importantly though, we also provided 100 brand new books to mark the day so that children could go back to their schools with the beginnings of a new library collection.

Freetown Library

The new school term hadn’t started by 8th September in Sierra Leone but that didn’t stop children from turning up for the celebrations. As well as children of all ages, there were teachers, heads of schools and community members. We were treated to children reading aloud, reciting poems, telling us local stories and acting out short sketches on the importance of literacy and education in the 21st century. Their passion for reading was clear to see.

International Literacy Day

In a country like Sierra Leone, International Literacy Day is more than a celebration of books. It is a chance to encourage reading and to change the future direction of the country. Sierra Leone’s adult literacy rate stands at just 45%. This means that more than half of the adults in the country cannot help their children to learn to read. Their employment prospects are limited to jobs which do not require reading or writing. They cannot understand the instructions on a medicine bottle or read the many public health posters around the country about protecting against infection and preventing Ebola. That’s why days like these are so important. They remind communities of the importance of reading and they promote ways in which children can access books that can make a huge difference in their lives.

While I was in Sierra Leone, I also spent two days visiting rural schools in some of the more impoverished areas of the country. Through a partnership with Plan International we have begun supplying small collections of books to these schools – often the only books the school has. I met parents, teachers and children in the villages and was struck by the parents’ passion for their children’s education. Many of these parents are illiterate but they understand the value of education and literacy for their children. They want a better future for their children – a future where opportunities are not limited by illiteracy. This is what International Literacy Day is all about.

Book Aid International supported six partner countries to celebrate International Literacy Day in 2016 by providing promotional items, guidance and new books for children.