Too many children are growing up in a world without books.
They live in families where parents are struggling even to put food on the table, so buying books is simply not possible. Schools rarely have reading books, and pupils must often share textbooks.
For many children, a local library is the only place where they have the opportunity to discover books – but in many places those libraries have only a few out of date children’s books, no dedicated children’s space and no librarian who has been trained to support children’s reading.
Without access to books, children may never have the chance to expand their horizons through education or experience the joy of reading.
About Children’s Corners
Every Children’s Corner creates a child-focused, welcoming space in a library where children can discover the magic of reading. In each library, we provide a collection of at least 2,500 brand-new children’s books which are selected to ignite a love of reading and funds to purchase locally published books that reflect children’s own experiences.
We also run an in-depth training course of up to 10 days which is tailored to local librarian, staff or volunteer needs and covers topics including library management, supporting the youngest readers and encouraging reading in their local community.
Finally, a grant provides the funds librarians and staff need to create a child-friendly, beautiful space where children will feel welcomed into reading.
Wherever possible, we also integrate e-books into Children’s Corners. Find out more about work around digital reading
In the early days of the programme, Children’s Corners focused on public, networked libraries. In 2017 and 2018, we ran a successful pilot called Book Havens which explored how a Children’s Corners model could be rolled out in non-formal libraries. These libraries are often run by volunteers and non-librarian staff in a range of locations, including schools, youth centres, churches and community halls. The pilot was hugely successful, with Book Havens open in Nairobi’s slum communities, disadvantaged communities in Ethiopia and community libraries in Uganda.
We are now taking forward the learnings from Book Havens as part of the larger Children’s Corners programme, expanding Children’s Corners to new communities in a more diverse range of networked and informal libraries.
The impact of Children’s Corners
Since 2009, we have created over 120 Children’s Corners across sub-Saharan Africa and there have been over one million child visits to these Children’s Corners. Libraries report that after Children’s Corners open they have more children visiting their libraries than ever before and are more able to run reading activities, confidently supporting the youngest readers as they start their reading journey:
“I love working with children and the training has freely inspired me. I didn’t know what to do in the library before. We have classes on a Saturday about 40 children come. They love to come and remain in the library.”
Children’s Corner Librarian, Zambia
Children love their new Children’s Corners and always tell us that they value their new friendly librarians, the beautiful books we provide and the space the library offers:
The library used to have old books with missing pages. I am happy that all the new books are interesting and colourful. I like the new paint on the walls. Everything in the library is now very nice. I feel happy when I come to the library because I am able to read many interesting books in a beautiful place that feels like heaven.
Cynthia, 13 year old Children’s Corner reader, Mathare slum, Nairobi, Kenya
Parents also report that access to Children’s Corners has a dramatic impact on their children’s learning:
We are happy that the library is preparing them for school. I have been bringing my three-year-old son to the library daily for five months. He can count up to 10 and sing the letters of the alphabet.
Khalid, parent of Children’s Corners reader, Pemba island, Zanzibar
For more information on the long-term impact of our Children’s Corners please read our Open Doors Children’s Corners: Outcomes and Lessons paper and our report on the impact of Book Havens in Kenya.
The future of Children’s Corners
In 2019, the first Children’s Corners will open in Ghana as well as in Rwanda’s informal NGO-led libraries and in five of Zambia’s more remote rural districts. In the years to come, we will continue to expand the Children’s Corners programme to reach the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised children. If you would like to be a part of opening the next Children’s Corners, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 7733 3577.