Tag Archives: The Gambia

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.


Showing off books in school

Getting to grips with reading in The Gambia

Children living in some of The Gambia’s poorest rural communities have few opportunities to discover the joy of reading: Most families cannot afford books to have at home and schools often only have curriculum textbooks. In addition, little or no access to electricity can make reading and studying in the evening impossible.

Thanks to the inspiring books you have helped to send, pupils at Boraba Lower Basic School and Demfai Basic Cycle School have plenty of books to read and enjoy! They are even able to indulge their new-found of love reading after school thanks to solar lamps from our partner Switched On-Gambia. We caught up with head teachers from both schools to find out more.


School Principal Musa has seen the language skills of his pupils improve since the new books arrived

Musa Baldeh, Principal, Demfai Basic Cycle School

Books from Book Aid International have made our reading lessons easier. Pupils used to find these lessons boring but the variety of books from Book Aid International means that they are now enjoying these lessons. These books came at the time we needed them most!

Teachers are using the books in class during reading lessons and students are also taking them home to read. A lot of the curriculum books are not available at our school so the books from Book Aid International are also being used by teachers as supplementary materials. So these books are very important in supporting teaching and learning at this institution.


Reading class
Pupils enjoy reading lessons now they have new books to explore


Because books are now being used more in class and pupils are also able to borrow books to read at home, the language skills of our pupils are improving. The solar lamps mean pupils can read at home in the evenings.

In my community there is little understanding of the importance of formal education which means there is poor support from parents of their children’s academic careers. But these books are motivating students to come to school daily and stay in school.

The books from Book Aid International are very good. They are improving our reading skills and make learning easy. The language books help us to know the correct verbs.

– Ramatoulie, 11, Boraba Lower Basic School pupil.

Kebba Ceesay, Head Teacher at Boraba Lower Basic School

The books are very good, they are very important. They are very current and in-line with the curriculum. We use the books with our pupils during library periods. Teachers also use some of the books for further explanation during lessons.

These books are encouraging our pupils to read.  Sometimes pupils come to the library to learn new words using the dictionaries. If teachers are not in class, pupils come and borrow books to read in class to keep themselves busy.

Children with books
More pupils are coming to school as a result having access to new books to enjoy!

Almost every pupil rents a solar lantern so they can read books at home as well and this is impacting on their academic performance.

Now with the help of the books, we are engaging pupils more in reading and their reading is improving. We’re also seeing improvements in their language. The books are also increasing the number of pupils that come to school. Without these books, learning would be difficult for the children as it was before.

We hope to see pupils leaving this school with a good educational background.


The Duchess of Cornwall meets readers

‘There is no greater joy in this world than reading’

The library at St Therese’s Upper Basic School which was opened by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall is already being used by the school’s pupils. Formerly, the school’s library had only old, outdated books but now, thanks to our supporters, it is filled with 3,000 brand new, age-appropriate books for the pupils to enjoy.

We talked to Mrs Jammeh, the school’s Principal, Mrs Jammeh, and Mrs Corria, the School Librarian to hear more about the new library and the difference the new books will make for their pupils.

What is life like for pupils St Therese’s Upper Basic School?

Mrs Jammeh: Children who attend this school are just from the average Gambian home. Most of them come from homes of large extended families and there is not enough money to go around. So they don’t have books at home that they can read for leisure. All they have is the set textbooks.

What difference do you think the new library and books will make for your pupils?

Mrs Jammeh: Before, most of the books in the library were old, they were given to us a long long time ago. Also, some of them were above the level of the students in this school, they were meant for those in college and tertiary education.

But these books that Book Aid International have given to us are in the children’s grasp and they can relate to the stories in the books. They are also new, brand new. It really motivates the children to read more.

Mrs Corria: The library has a lot of materials that the students can benefit from in the academic subjects, in the technical subjects and also they can read for leisure with fiction books. A library helps the students to read more and if you read more, you gain a lot of knowledge.

Before, students were not looking at the academic books – they were looking at the fiction books because they have stories. But the way it is now [with the new books] I’ve seen them going for the sciences, mathematics, languages. So I know that there is now more that we can do for them.

What are your hopes for the future of the pupils in this school?

Mrs Corria: I have high hopes. If you have a good foundation in reading and you read a lot, your future is bright.

Mrs Jammeh: I hope they will do well in their school leaving certificate exams and then go on to tertiary education and go to university. And I hope they will read more because there is no greater joy in this world than reading.


St Therese’s Upper Basic School’s library is the first that we have supported in partnership with the Gambia National Library Services Authority (GNLSA). We join the staff and pupils of St Therese’s Upper Basic School and the GNLSA in thanking Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall for her visit to the first library we have supported in The Gambia and we look forward to working with the GNLSA creating access to more books for thousands of Gambians from all walks of life.

The Duchess of Cornwall meets readers

Duchess of Cornwall opens library filled with books you’ve helped to send!

Yesterday, as part of the Royal visit to West Africa, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall visited St Therese’s Upper Basic School in The Gambia, where she opened the school’s new library.

Her Royal Highness’s visit to The Gambia with His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales celebrates the country’s return to the Commonwealth earlier this year.

Gambia St Therese;s School The Duchess' visit
The Duchess of Cornwall takes a tour of the new library

The library at St Therese’s Upper Basic School is the very first library which we have supported in The Gambia through our partnership with the Gambia National Library Service Authority (GNLSA) – and is filled with 3,000 brand new books our supporters have helped to send! These books were chosen specifically to help the school’s pupils discover a love of reading and support their studies.

We also provided two book boxes filled with over 400 brand new books for younger readers which will be used in local primary schools.

Gambia St Therese's School busy library
The new library filled with new books and keen readers!

In addition to the 3,000 books for St Therese’s Upper Basic School’s new library, we have also provided GNLSA with 30,000 brand new books for readers across the Gambia to enjoy. This includes children’s books, novels and inspiring non-fiction for adults, medical texts, curriculum support books, higher education texts and a range of other books selected to support Gambians who wish to discover new ideas and expand their horizons.

Gambia St Therese's School new library plaque

Libraries full of beautiful, brand new books can support literacy and inspire talented young people to imagine new possibilities. We join GNLSA and the staff and pupils of the school in thanking Her Royal Highness for her visit to the first library we have supported, and we look forward to working with the GNLSA creating access to more books for thousands of Gambians from all walks of life.

You can watch a video of Her Royal Highness’ visit here:

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


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.