Our charity, Book Aid International, works for a world where everyone has access to books that will enrich, improve, and change their lives. Every year, we provide around one million brand new books to thousands of libraries, schools, universities, hospitals, refugee camps and prisons around the world where people would otherwise have few books, or no books at all.
The support of publishers is vital to our work. Publishers donate all the books we send, and we hear again and again from our partners and readers around the world that the quality of the books we provide is what makes our charity unique.
We know that simply making books available is not always enough – particularly when it comes to supporting education. That is why in addition to providing books, we also work with our partners to create reading spaces for children in libraries, train teachers and librarians, create school libraries and fund the purchase of local books.
Our largest education programme, Inspiring Readers, has put over 372,473 brand new, publisher donated books into the classrooms of over 290,000 African primary school pupils in Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe and funded the purchase of 50,237 locally published supplementary books for schools. We have found that when vibrant and up to date books are available children are attracted to reading, then learn to read more easily and that reading confidence helps them in other subjects as well.
In addition to supporting pupils’ reading directly, a well-stocked school library creates a world of new resources for teachers and allows them to teach in an exciting way. For example, we’ve heard about teachers using picture books to teach counting and non-fiction books about topics like volcanos or dinosaurs to enrich science lessons.
We are immensely proud to have supported over 290,000 children’s reading through Inspiring Readers – but we know there is still so much to do. When schools re-open following Covid-19 closures students will need books to catch up on lost learning, and where schools remain closed, we must make books available outside the classroom.
That is why we were delighted to secure a grant recently from the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF), a collaboration between philanthropic organization Dubai Cares, which is the donor, and the International Publishers Association, which manages the fund. This grant will be used to open a new Community Container Library in a region of rural Zanzibar where there is currently no public library. Each Community Container Library transforms a shipping container into a thriving community library stocked with thousands of brand-new books donated by UK publishers alongside locally purchased books, and the new Community Container Library on Zanzibar will give many in the local community their first opportunity to explore all that books can offer.
We know that books are needed now, more than ever: to unlock learning, aid recovery and provide inspiration. And we also know that with publishers by our side, we can offer many more people the opportunity to read.