Posts Tagged ‘library’

Room to Read–the Gift of Literacy Around the World

I hope you’re getting ready, as I am, to put on your gratitude pants (with handy elastic waist for post-prandial expansion from the Thanksgiving feast). I truly hope you and yours have much to be thankful for and are able to share the good fortune you enjoy with others who may not be as lucky.

There are so many arenas where I recognize I am so outrageously fortunate–one of them being the access to education I had when I was young. Not everyone, of course, has that, and access to education can be quite discriminatory, not only divisive along financial lines, but with heinous gender inequality as well. An educated girl is simply not as highly prized as an educated boy in many parts of the world, and 42% of girls in developing nations are not enrolled in school. Room to Read is one of many organizations trying to do something about that. Believing that world change starts with education, they work with local communities and educators in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South Africa, and Zambia (with plans to move into other literacy-challenged regions) to bring hope of an education to all children, develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school. Through initiatives like “Reading Room” (building and stocking libraries–more than 10,000 so far), Local Language Publishing (giving kids access to materials in their native language), School Room (building primary and secondary school classrooms), and Girls’ Education, Room to Read is spreading the word–literally.

They have a strong devotion to supporting the communities where they work, and employing local teachers and builders/tradespeople, so they don’t have overseas volunteer opportunities–but go to the site, spin around a bit, and support the work of bringing access to education to all.

The World is Just a Book Away

There are few issues on which the leaders of the world can agree, but you would have a hard time finding anyone to veer from the belief that education is the key to advancing a community, village, town, city, or nation. We certainly know here at home that the lack of a vigorously healthy education system is holding us back (and indefensible in a country that has access to doing so much better). In regions living with crippling poverty, opening the door just the slightest crack by providing opportunities for education has dramatic effects. Give those opportunities equally to boys and girls, and you’ve planted the seeds of a success revolution.

The World is Just a Book Away is a charitable organization launched in 2008, with the goal of bringing books and eduction to children in developing countries. The vision of The World is Just a Book Away: A world in which all children have access to books, a quality education, and hope for the future. The group builds libraries and sustainable programs for education, the first being in Sidoarjo, Indonesia—a region on the island of Java that has been devastated by a mudflow disaster that has displaced more than 60,000 people and resulted in the hospitalization of at least 40,000 others.30 libraries, a mobile library, and thousands of books are transforming that community.

In addition to looking at the possibility of supporting the seminal work of The World is Just a Book Away, think about the books you have, perhaps in boxes or closet shelves, that could be donated to this or similar programs. They are meant to be read.


READ Global

READ Global is a pretty amazing organization that started by building and stocking libraries in remote rural villages of the world, and has expanded with the times to really personalize community services in the locations where they work. Places like Bhutan, India, and Nepal—Himalayan villages where education never had a fair shake, but is growing as a priority for the youth as materials and opportunities are provided where there parents and grandparents never had access.

Rather than digest their carefully explained mission and goals, I’ll let their website text speak for itself–you’ll be inspired (hopefully to support them with a donation or with your volunteer work–perhaps even travel to and visit a READ Global project).

Our Approach

Every month, 5 million people flee the poverty of rural villages and head for the city – to find work, to feed their families. The resulting urban overpopulation and squalor impacts all of us—through increased pollution and diminishing resources, the spread of disease, lack of clean water and safe food, and drained economic resources. These problems don’t know borders; they threaten the health of the global community and the strength of the global economy.

Today we face a rural imperative: the urgent need to make rural villages places where families can thrive.

The READ Global Solution

The READ model partners for-profit business enterprises with non-profit Community Library and Resource Centers (READ Centers).  This unique approach allows the local community to sustain the operations of the READ Center over the long-run while creating local jobs.
How READ Works
Enterprise: READ Global works with community members to seed for-profit business enterprises that meet local needs, provide job opportunities and generate sustaining revenues for the READ Center.

Education: READ Global works with communities to fund and build READ Centers that meet the unique needs of each village.  These Centers provide access to books, computers, educational materials, job training, health services and workshops on leadership and conflict resolution. With these resources, individuals and families can learn, grow and reach their full potential.

Prosperity: With a strong emphasis on both education and enterprise, the READ Global solution brings communities together to share ideas and build relationships that enable families and children to stay and thrive in their own communities.

Key to READ’s Success
The READ model enhances rural capabilities, it does not replace them. We work closely and respectfully with local villagers to leverage their assets and talents to meet their specific educational, community, and employment needs.  Villages contribute between 15%-40% of the total cost of the project along with land and labor and READ makes up the rest.  This local ownership of such a community solution is essential to long-term success.

Books Through Bars


Did ya change over to Kindle yet? Have you stopped buying books? (Lordy I hope not. I certainly love my Kindle for travel, but I’ll never let go of the glorious heft, smell, feel of books. They are brilliant and a touchstone in every sense). Regardless of your position on digital readers, I’ll bet dollars to donuts (mmm, donuts) that there are all kinds of beach reads and textbooks and dense novels in which you couldn’t get past page 100 that are currently littering your shelves (and basement and spare room and closet). Don’t you want to lighten your load a bit and make some other lives better while you’re at it? Don’t dump that first edition or your only copy of Shakepseare’s complete works or that dogeared Cacher in the Rye…but some of the space takers…the might as well be a doorstop copies you’ll never read again. Relieve yourself of those.

There’s any number of charities that will be glad to receive your gently used books—here’s one you may not have thought of—prisons. The Prisoners Literature Project believes that everyone deserves access to literature and educational materials, including people trying to work towards social change, self-empowerment, or rehabilitation within the incarceration system. Most prisons bar individuals from donating books directly to incarcerated individuals, and prison libraries tend to be narrowly stocked with murder mysteries and thrillers. The greatest need is for reference books (dictionaries, thesauri, GED and other test prep books, legal books, etc), foreign language dictionaries, history, politics, and how-to books to teach new skills. There’s also a huge need for donated postage, packing supplies, and tape since getting the books to the prisons is a major cost.

Think about it, and free up a little shelf space.