Open Doors is our new appeal to create library environments for children in Africa in which reading for pleasure and learning can flourish. With few books in their schools and no books at home, children struggle to read and learn. For most children a public or community library is the only place with books, space and light to read.
Libraries in Africa generally do not have suitable spaces for children and most librarians have not been trained to work with young readers. Working with local partners, Book Aid International will create a total of 35 Children’s Corners in Cameroon, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda from 2014-2015, followed by more Children’s Corners in Cameroon, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe from 2016-2017, bringing the total to 60. Open Doors will transform libraries, creating bright and welcoming spaces for children, encouraging thousands more children to use libraries and to enjoy books, and providing safe spaces for children to read, learn and play.
Each library gets a small grant for refurbishment, including paint, child-sized furniture, low shelving, and toys and games. Book Aid International provides approximately 2,000 brand new children’s books donated by UK publishers, and grants for purchasing locally-published books, including local language titles. At least two librarians from each library take part in training that develops skills and confidence in working with children. They are also trained to share their training with other librarians and they work with local schools and communities to organise a variety of activities, encouraging more children to use libraries and to read regularly so that children can enjoy books in English and local languages suited to their age and reading level.
Book Aid International is building on success and experience – our Children’s Corners projects with library services in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have so far set up 50 Children’s Corners since 2009. Librarians, children, teachers, parents and local communities are full of praise and enthusiasm for Children’s Corners. With your help, we can set up many more.
“Mwanza can be a dangerous town for these children, especially at the weekend when they could be in danger of getting in trouble, but this Children’s Corner provides a safe space for children to go to and they really enjoy reading the books!”
Steve Musiba, Librarian, Tanzania Library Services Board, Mwanza Library, Tanzania
“The library has improved my reading and composition and I am now at the top of the class, I want to continue coming to the library and read more interesting story books so that I can tell stories to my children when I grow up and become a teacher.”
– Hassan Adan, Masalani Library Children’s Corner, Kenya
“The children have been great and have overwhelmed some librarians with their response…. The teachers are now eager to take the children to the libraries …”
Ms. Stella Nekuusa, Project Coordinator, National Library of Uganda Children’s Corners