Regular readers of this blog will know I’m passionate about reading and especially about reading with my daughter. We’re fortunate to have a ready supply of books – either by being able to buy them, regularly receiving them as gifts or borrowing them from our well-stocked local library. We rarely think too hard about where our next one is coming from! But there are some places in the world where books are much more of a luxury, where they cannot be taken for granted as they are here. That’s where UK-based charity Book Aid International comes in. Thursday 6 March is World Book Day and the charity needs us to help while joining in with the celebrations.
I can’t imagine a life without books. I’ve learnt so many things through them and have so many happy memories attached to them. I can still recall the bedtime stories my parents read, fairy tales like The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Gingerbread Man and later Enid Blyton’s Wishing Chair and Faraway Tree series. As I see that same love and interest emerge in my Little Miss, I want all children to be able to enjoy the simple pleasures and longer-term learning benefits of books.
For millions of people in Africa their only access to books is through a library – and these libraries take many different forms. Book Aid International sends more than 500,000 new books a year to sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these countries are blighted by poverty, civil war, HIV/AIDS, inconsistent educational provision and other problems. They include places like Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Malawi. Over half the books provided are for children and many reach those who have no access to any formal education, like street children.
As well as books, the charity also provides training for local librarians and grants to buy locally published books and for library refurbishments. They help create Children’s Corners in public libraries and run schemes like School Library in a Box for those who don’t have the resources for a permanent building, especially in more isolated communities. They also support Health Hubs, where people can get access to up-to-date medical books – these are often the only local source of current health information for healthcare workers in these countries.
I think this is amazing work to be involved with, so whether your a parent, teacher (I know some of you are!) or just a book lover, please take a look at the fundraising ideas and resources the charity has put together to mark World Book Day and help spread the word. There are lots of ideas, including an A to Z of fundraising, 10 easy step-by-step parents’ guides to dressing up costumes – all made with things you can probably find at home – and the chance for schools to win National Book Tokens. For a younger child like mine I think the Little Miss Sunshine outfit will be perfect – she is already, of course, my very own Little Miss Sunshine!
Just £2 is enough to send a book to Africa and help change lives. Last year’s World Book Day fundraising brought in enough cash to send almost 40,000 books to children who needed them most. I’m sure even more can be raised this year, so please join in and have fun.
Image credits: Book Aid International