Tag Archives: Sierra Leone Library Board

Reading activity in Uganda

Enjoying stories across the world

The books that supporters like you help to send are loved by children across the world!

Here, we’ve gathered together some of their favourite reads which they shared with us to mark World Book Day on the 5th March:


Reading can open up a whole new world to the reader, you can become whoever you want to be – a pirate, a spy, a princess, or an animal. By reading you can travel, explore new worlds, and go on adventures. All that is possible just by opening up a book.

– Clarissa, Street Children Empowerment Foundation, Ghana.


Thimpu, Bhutan

Bhutan book club


Keen young readers in Thimpu, Bhutan, love visiting their local READ Model Centre after school where Ms. Yangcen leads read aloud sessions. Recently, she read I Love Mum with the Very Hungry Caterpillar.


Dandora, Nairobi, Kenya

Enjoying books at DADREG's library in Nairobi


In Nairobi’s Dandora slum in Kenya, the community library run by our partner DADREG is a place that children love to visit to share stories. It’s a place that keeps them busy away from the local landfill site where many of them often join their families to sift for items to sell to make ends meet:

Reading storybooks puts smiles on our faces and books make learning exciting!


Enjoying books in Ghana


In Ghana, the kids at the schools and libraries supported by our partner Rainbow Trust love to read all sorts of books; here they show off just a few of them!

We love reading these books because they are colourful and packed full of fun! Some of the books, like Samson: The Mighty Flee and The Wildest Cowboy encourage the children that with perseverance, they can succeed.

Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya

The kids who read at Mathare Youth Sport Association’s (MYSA) libraries in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya, are lucky enough to have lots of staff and volunteers who read all sorts of stories with them.

Sharing stories at MYSA in Kenya


At MYSA’s Mathare North Library the kids recently listened to Librarian Stephen reading We Could Help:

Here in the Mathare slums, people litter everywhere so I chose ‘We Could Help’ so the children realise that they can join hands to clean their communities for a better tomorrow.

– Stephen

And Library Attendant Charles, read them The Little Dancer and Other Stories – because they love to dance!

Sharing stories at MYSA in Kenya

Most of the children I was reading the story to are in the library dancing club. So I thought the story might encourage them to continue dancing and maybe think of starting a ballet dancing club in the library.

– Charles


Banjul, The Gambia

Reading at Gambia National Library Service Authority


All sorts of children’s fiction and non-fiction books are loved by the kids who read at the Gambia National Library Service Authority’s library! They especially love story books.


Kpando, Ghana

Sharing stories in class in Ghana


The kids at Delta Preparatory School’s Library Club (which gets books from its local Ghana Library Authority branch) love sharing the The Stone Age to the Iron Age book and learning how tools and farming techniques have changed.


Gaza Strip and the West Bank

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, our partner Tamer Instuitue for Community Education organises all sorts of reading workshops and activities, book launches, discussions and good old read alouds!


Musanze, Rwanda

Reading at Agati Library in Rwanda


In Rwanda, the kids at Agati Library in Musanze particularly love to be read Momo and Snap, a picture book about the ups and downs of the friendship between a young monkey and a young crocodile.

Reading Momo and Snap creates a feeling of excitement, thrill and even friendship.

Gwanda, Zimbabwe

Young readers at the Edward Ndlovu Memorial Library in Zimbabwe love Funnybones so much that they request it again and again!


Tonkolili, Sierra Leone

Reading at Tonkolili District Library


In Sierra Leone, children enjoy reading all sorts of books and stories but at Tonkolili District Children’s Library, The Dinosaur Who Pooped A Lot! is a particular favourite!


Jamestown, Accra, Ghana

Sharing stories at Street Children Empowerment Foundation in Ghana


The children at Street Children Empowerment Foundation’s library in Accra, Ghana are currently reading a book called Mine:

The children love the illustrations and we chose this book because it teaches the children how important sharing is. Sharing spreads happiness – and so do books!


We are continuing to work with our partners as much as possible and support them wherever we can as they respond to COVID-19 and find new ways to give as many people as possible access to brand new books.


ILD celebrations in Cameroon

Celebrating literacy across Africa!

Last month, our partners across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa celebrated International Literacy Day and the power of reading with some of the communities they work in.

The scene is set for celebrations in Tanzania


From Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s bustling capital city to remote, rural Zimbabwe, hundreds of school children took part in reading and spelling competitions, performed marches, dances, songs and dramas, gave presentations and speeches and engaged in debates.


Reading competition reader
A pupil in Kenya takes part in a reading competition


Local dignitaries and government officials attended as did local and national media, teachers, parents, publishers and writers as well as members of the wider communities. And all with the aim of promoting reading and raising the profile of libraries and the services they offer.


Giving out awards
A young reader is awarded a prize at EISERVI’s celebrations in Cameroon

As part of the celebrations, each partner gave out 600 brand new, inspiring books that you have helped to send as prizes for participants and for schools to add to their library collections. Our hope is that these books will enable children to continue to enjoy reading long after the excitement of the celebrations have faded.

Occasions like International Literacy Day provide the perfect opportunity to promote reading and literacy. Find out more about some of our partners’ celebrations below.



Celebrations took place at EISERVI’s library in Cameroon’s capital city Yaoundé.

Cameroon students
Secondary school students show off their prizes and book donation for their school library

Once the day’s celebrations were over, children who had never visited EISERVI’s library before were keen to return as soon as they could:

Aunty, I like your library and I would like to come here and read after school. Can I?

– Wenyi Favour, Government Primary School.



In Zimbabwe, Edward Ndlovu Memorial Trust took their celebrations to Selonga Primary School’s community library in rural Gwanda where pupils from neighbouring schools as well as their parents and the wider community joined them.

In addition to competitions, performances and presentations by the children, older people from the community read short stories and spoke of how literacy has enabled them to better their own lives and the lives of their families.

Being literate is important for everyone, young and old. In this fast-changing world, being illiterate will make you lose out on a lot of things – even being in touch with the larger outside world.

– Mrs Mathe.



Kenya National Library Service’s celebrations focused on Kwale branch library. Kwale County has the second highest rate of poverty in the country and a large percentage of school drop outs. This event was a great opportunity to promote reading and the library as a means of learning outside of formal education.

Reading competition
School children perform at Kenya National Library Service’s celebrations in Kwale


It changed the way I thought about reading. I thought reading was only for academic purposes …

– Benjamin Wabwire, teacher.



Our partner CODE Ethiopia celebrated International Literacy Day at Ejere Community Library in rural Ejere town.

Becoming a reader is a must.

– Tsige, teacher.

Apart from serving the local community, I myself have got a lot that changed my life from this library.

– Lemma Kefeni, retired teacher and former librarian.


Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone Library Board marked International Literacy Day with an event at their headquarters library in Freetown.

There was huge excitement among the children that attended – for many of them it was the first time they had participated in an event like this.



Tanzania Library Services Board’s celebrations took place at their Central Library in Dar es Salaam.




The event included speeches from a variety of people highlighting the importance of reading:

Look how amazing it is that reading brings people together.

– Ms Latifah Miraji, Soma Book Café, local NGO.

Do not use your smart phones to serve only films or music, rather use it to download books of your desire. Read them, understand them and let them bridge your knowledge gap.

– Aneth Amos, pupil, Jangwani Girls Secondary School.


This year, the Library and Information Association of Eritrea held their celebrations at six public and community libraries across the Maekel, South and Anseba regions. This included two prisons where inmates gave speeches about the importance of reading in their lives. One 92-year-old female prisoner spoke about how she had completed first grade for the first time and is now preparing to enter second grade:

I will keep reading until my eyes no longer allow me to do so.



Grace Rwanda celebrated International Literacy Day at Ineza Children’s Corner in the Shyorongi Sector of the Northern Province.


Rwandan dancers
Celebrations included dance performances


The library has already seen an increase in visits from children and schools as a result of the event.


Football match
Celebrations even included a youth football match!

There are books we needed but couldn’t find them and we had limited books but now these books are here, we will read them much!

– Byaruhanga Moses, a pupil at GS Rwisirabo


International Literacy Day celebrations were also held by our partners in Liberia, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zanzibar.

Sierra Leone shipment arriving

You did it!

In September we launched our first ever Crowdfunding campaign to send 2,000 brand new books to children in Sierra Leone.


Bo City Library reader


The country was declared Ebola-free over a year ago, but efforts to rebuild continue and pupils are still playing catch up after their schools closed for a full year during the crisis. Books are a vital way for children to supplement their learning and get back up to speed:

The need is even greater now because Sierra Leone is still in the recovery period after Ebola. Literacy, education and access to educational resources and facilities are priority for the government to sail through this period.

– Sallieu Turay, Chief Librarian, Sierra Leone Library Board.

In light of the on-going urgent need for books, we launched our Crowdfunding campaign to raise £4,000 in just four weeks and send 2,000 brand new books to schools and children’s libraries in the country.


Bassa Town Primary Sierra Leone


It was an ambitious target, but thanks to the efforts of supporters who shared the campaign and the generosity of our donors, the campaign exceeded our target and raised a whopping £4,191 – enough to send 2,095 books!

We were delighted, as is Sallieu, our partner in Sierra Leone:

I was thrilled when I read that a crowd funding is in progress to support the children of Sierra Leone with 2,000 books. The books will prepare and better equip children to go to school and stay in school. Thank you Book Aid International supporters! The children of Sierra Leone appreciate you so much.

Port Loko children celebrate


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


HRH the Duke of Edinburgh with Sallieu Turay, Chief Librarian of Sierra Leone Library Board

An evening celebrating the power of books to change lives

On Tuesday 21 March, Book Aid International was joined by our patron, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and many of our long-term supporters at St James’s Palace for an evening celebrating the power of books to change lives.

In this blog, our Director, Alison Tweed, reflects on what the evening meant for Book Aid International.

Last night, we were honoured to welcome over 150 of our supporters at a reception hosted by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh at St James’s Palace celebrating the power of books to change lives. His Royal Highness has been our Patron since 1966 and has seen our work grow from its early days as the Ranfurly Library Service to the organisation we are today and we are most grateful for his support.


HRH Duke of Edinburgh speaks to a supporter


It is always wonderful to gather our supporters so that we can thank them for all they do. The group that joined us for the evening was diverse, but everyone was united by a shared love of books and reading. Books have profoundly shaped our own experiences from the earliest age and we all know how much books have the potential to influence, improve and impact our lives.

We were last at St James’s Palace in 2014 to mark our 60th anniversary. Since that time, much has changed. The Sustainable Development Goals have been launched, highlighting the importance of inclusive and quality education as the key to a more equitable future for all, and the availability of books and learning resources has been highlighted as a critical part of ensuring that everyone receives the education they need.


Book Aid International volunteers


The world is also facing new challenges. People are on the move, sometimes in desperate circumstances, and millions of children worldwide still leave school without the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to build a better future.

At Book Aid International, much of our work already responds to these changing needs. Our Children’s Corners programme helps create an environment in which early literacy can thrive, we provide many thousands of books to schools every year and our support of public libraries helps give millions of people access to books who might otherwise have few opportunities to read.

However, we recognise that our work must evolve alongside the changing world in which we operate. So, last night, we launched our new vision for 2020. As we continue to work with our existing partners, we will also seek to renew our commitment to ensuring our books reach those who face the greatest barriers to reading. We will reach out to people who have been displaced by conflict or living in fragile states, who live in remote or particularly deprived communities, frontline medical workers providing vital services for their communities and people excluded from the mainstream by disability and discrimination.

It is an ambitious vision which will see us working in new communities without sacrificing our current partners and beneficiaries. We will certainly face challenges but we know that, working together, we can make our vision a reality. We will shortly publish a full strategy document outlining our vision for 2020.

I would like to personally thank all those who attended last night’s event for the warm reception you gave our new vision as well as all of those who support our work. We hope that you will join us as we begin to realise our vision for 2020 and take the next step toward creating a world where everyone has access to the books they need.


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!


Keeping communities informed during Ebola

When Ebola broke out in Sierra Leone in 2014, a national state of emergency was declared. Public institutions were shut, travel was restricted and children missed a whole school year.

Believing in their important role in contributing to the health, education and development of the country, the Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) kept the doors of its libraries open across the country.

We talked to Sallieu Turay, Chief Librarian of SLLB about the role that its libraries played during the Ebola crisis:


Somebody would say “what is the link with a public library and Ebola?” There is a link because we have a role to inform society about contemporary issues.

During the Ebola period, the Sierra Leone Library Board libraries remained open. We never closed our doors. Schools were closed, colleges were closed, some public offices were closed but all our libraries nationwide were open. We motivated our staff to make sure that they continued to deliver the relevant library and information services to the public.




There were a lot of restrictions in terms of movement from one point to another. But we were travelling all over the country trying to distribute books, distributing other educational items to the public. To move from one point to the other, you had to make an application for permits to travel. Without those permits you couldn’t travel from one point to the other. And you had a time frame you were allowed to travel within – you couldn’t travel outside of that set period. It was difficult but we ventured.


Bo City Library Sierra Leone


The there was also the risk of interacting with people during that period. But our libraries run a lot of outreach services for their communities. We do book programmes and lot of user education, especially things that relate to health issues. We did this especially during the Ebola period. We were the first to bring on board traditional healers all over Sierra Leone to educate them on issues related to Ebola prevention.


Activities at Bo City Library, Sierra Leone


We also continued to run our library programmes like quizzes, dramas, reading promotional activities and the like. We wanted to try to close the gap. Most children were at home doing nothing and we believed that making our doors open within that period would give them something to do, somewhere to go.

It was not easy, but we tried to do what we could as a library during that particular period.  And it paid off so much.


In March 2016, the World Health Organisation declared Sierra Leone Ebola free. Schools are open again, businesses are restarting and everyone is focused on the future. We are proud to partner with SLLB, providing brand new books for library users of every age and stage. This year, we have shipped 33,000 books to Sierra Leone with the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We hope that these new, carefully selected books will help people as they rebuild their lives and communities.

To learn more about our work in Sierra Leone take a look at the links below.


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.