Who started Start a Library and why?

Start a library is a corporate social responsibility campaign initiated by Storymoja as a key pillar to drive a reading revolution in Kenya. We believe that a reading nation is a smarter nation. Reading widely is especially important as we now live in a globalized world where knowledge is the key driver for economic and social development.

Who are Storymoja?

Storymoja is a publishing company based in Nairobi that was founded by five writers. Our vision is to get a book in every hand. We publish East African authors and a few international authors whose books tell the African story particularly well.

Storymoja also runs Africa’s largest book festival, and organizes writing workshops and national read aloud events. On the day of the African child in June 2015, Storymoja led 229,043 children in breaking a world record in reading!

What is Start a Library about?

Start A Library is a Reading Revolution campaign that increases children’s access to books by forming or stocking libraries in Public primary and community schools in Kenya, and excites them about reading for pleasure through our Read Aloud events and Reading clubs. Start a Library also invites influential Reading Ambassadors to act as role models for reading

Did you know that there are more than 20,000 Kenyan primary schools without libraries?

How does Start a Library work?

We work with partners to achieve our mission of empowering children with books. Individual and organizations can sign up to;

  • Donate books and funds to the Start a Library project,
  • Donate time to help run reading clubs as well as participate in the Read Aloud events.

Through our non-profit arm, RAAW Trust, Storymoja won a 2015 YETU grant to pay for publicity to fundraise to start libraries in schools.

Organizations can sign up by writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by visiting the Yetu website. Individual volunteers can sign up on the Yetu donation site. We can also help high-cost schools partner with nearby schools that need libraries.

How can I donate or support Start a Library?

You can help in different ways:

How do I get on the Start a Library Wall of Fame?

Your donation qualifies you for a brick on the Start a Library Wall of Fame. The bricks are colour coded to show recognition for different levels of donation. Donate any amount to star in the Start a Library Wall of Fame. Get your friends to contribute in your name and climb the colour-coded donation wall of fame!

  • Kshs 10 - 100 (US$ $1- $10) to star in the brick Wall of Fame
  • Kshs 200 - 500 (US$ $$20 - $50) to star in the brick Wall of Fame
  • Kshs 1,000 (US$ $$100) to star in the brick Wall of Fame
  • Kshs 10,000 (US$ $1000) to star in the bronze Wall of Fame
  • Kshes 100,000 (US$ $10,000) to star in the silver Wall of Fame
  • Kshs 200,000 (US$ $20,000) to star in the gold Wall of Fame

Donate whole library to star in the Diamond Wall of Fame. Form a group of friends to contribute one name and climb the colour-coded donation Wall of Fame!

  • 1 library – Kshs 300,000 (US$ $3,000)
  • 2 libraries – Kshs 600,000 (US$ $6,000)
  • 3 libraries – Kshs 900,000 (US$ $9,000)
  • 4 libraries - Kshs 1,200,000 (US$ $12,000)
  • 5 libraries - Kshs 1,500,000 (US$ $15,000)

To donate more libraries or bulk number of books, please contact us directly. Thank you for making it possible for even the poorest children in Kenya to read storybooks. Storybooks are a remarkable class room!

How can I sign up to be a Reading Ambassador?

Few children ever see adults reading books for pleasure. Children do what they see adults do. So our nation’s children really need adult role models for reading. Join our Reading Ambassadors network and become an advocate for reading. 

What will be required of me as a Reading Ambassador?

As an advocate and role model for reading, you can help drive the reading revolution in five practical ways:

Donate children’s books or the funds to purchase age-appropriate culturally relevant books for libraries in schools.

Network – Share your contacts with us or arrange meetings with individuals, organizations and institutions who can support Start a Library’s vision of getting a book in every hand.

Time - Donate time to Start a Library by participating in events such as:

  • Library installation ceremonies in schools
  • Read Aloud Initiatives
  • Read Aloud book clubs
  • Book Drives
  • Volunteer at the annual Storymoja Festival which acts as a fundraiser for Start a Library

Skills and talents - From time to time, Start A Library needs expertise and skills ranging from Library Management to Strategic Planning. Whatever your professional background, we would love to hear from you.

And of course, talk about #startalibrary.

  • Seek media opportunities to talk about Start a Library
  • Encourage your media friends to cover Start a Library events
  • Spread the word about Start a Library to friends, family and networks.
  • Share our posts and tweets on social media too!

What are the benefits of being a Reading Ambassador?

In addition to the deep satisfaction of helping nurture a reading culture among our children, you will also enjoy get:

  • Your photo and brief bio on www.startalibrary.org ‘Reading Ambassadors Wall of Fame’
  • Media interviews arranged as part of our network of Reading Ambassadors
  • Invitations to Special Book Drives and Storymoja events.
  • Most importantly, the precious smiles of smarter children who now have books to read for pleasure!

Thank you for inspiring even the poorest children in Kenya to read storybooks. Storybooks are a remarkable class room!

How are County First Ladies involved with Start a Library?

Storymoja challenged the First Ladies of Kenya to compete to see who can start the most libraries in their county. Already, the First Lady of Kitui is marching ahead with a container load of 20,000 books from international donors to start libraries in three wards of the county. With funds raised through the Yetu Start a Library campaign, we will match those books with local, age-appropriate culturally relevant books.

With the help of international partners helping with the Yetu campaign, like PACT and Book Aid International, Start a Library will run a special training programme this year for First Ladies on media and advocacy, resource mobilization, as well as library and book club management so they are armed and ready to become effective reading ambassadors from the grassroots to the national and even international level!

Donate to one of these First Ladies to start libraries in primary schools in their counties and help spread the knowledge that regular reading of storybooks will increase children’s literacy.

I have heard so much about the national Storymoja Read Aloud. Is it part of the Start a Library campaign? How can one be part of it and does my school get a reward for participating?

The national Storymoja Read Aloud is the largest gathering of Kenyan children reading together from the same text at the same time. We do it bi-annually; the last Friday of every January and on The Day of the African Child in June.

Read More »

You can enlist your school to participate in the next Read Aloud by sending us an email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Does Storymoja Start a Library have permission from the Ministry of Education to start libraries in Kenya?

Storymoja has been formally recognized by the Ministry of Education as a literacy actor/partner for its work in promoting the reading culture in schools and beyond through its national read-aloud events, book clubs, book festivals, career planning workshops, creative writing workshops, publishing of child writers programme, and the Start a Library project.

Which books do you seek to start libraries with?

We donate 1,000 books of different genres (types) that are appropriate for the different year groups in each primary school. We ensure that at least 60% of the books are local content so that children see their world mirrored and endorsed in stories.

Do you put up buildings for the libraries you start in primary schools?

No. It is more economic for Start a Library to concentrate on addressing the fundamental need - books. And most schools have limited space available for a library. We ask schools to put up shelves in any available, secure space in the school, like a principal’s office or big cupboard. (see link to photo)

However, some wonderful partners we’ve worked with have generously donated containers to start some libraries. We welcome any partner who’d like to donate physical libraries to contact us directly.

Do you accept digital e-book donations?

Yes. Although most schools have limited internet availability or digital gadgets, we accept that e-books will play an important role in future. We particularly welcome donations of $6,500 to deliver Worldreader blue boxes that contain 50 kindles with 100 titles each to start libraries in schools.

Do you start libraries in ECD centres and Secondary Schools?

Although our main focus is primary schools, we sometimes receive donations more suitable for ECD or secondary school libraries so have stocked a few ECD centres and secondary schools as well.

How much does it cost to start a library?

Each library costs KES 735,000 or $ 7,350 to set up. This includes the cost of research, sorting, packing, delivering, installation ceremony, training and monitoring use of the library.

How do you monitor that the libraries are actually used and children are reading storybooks?

To ensure that the libraries are regularly used, we train teachers how to manage the libraries and how to run read-aloud book clubs during the designated 35 minute weekly library lesson.

It is important that parents encourage their children to borrow and read storybooks so we will also make a presentation to a PTA or Board of Management meeting at each school as part of the grassroots advocacy campaign. We also encourage parents and/or teachers to sign off each review pages in the book diaries to know what and how much their children are reading.

Do you accept books or just money donations?

We gratefully accept donations of children’s books if they are in good condition and delivered to the Storymoja office or to our events for sorting.

Do you accept international donations of books?

We gratefully accept international donations of children’s books if they are in good condition. However, the cost of shipping and custom clearance is so high that we urge donors to send the books to international organizations who can cover the costs for bulk delivery to the Storymoja office.

How can I be sure that the funds I donate will be used for the purpose of starting libraries?

We acknowledge receipt of every donation and publish a sliding total of donations received on our site. We also publish details of the location of upcoming libraries and welcome donors to accompany us to the installation ceremony.

You will get a chance to verify the books, talk with the teachers and pupils. If for any reason you cannot make it to the school during installation, we will take pictures and share them with you!

How do you choose a school to start the libraries?

We work mainly with public primary school and low cost community/complementary schools. Schools also get in touch with us requesting to be part of the program. Sometimes, the public gets in touch with us nominating a school to benefit. Then, we either visit the school physically to evaluate its needs or the school fills out an evaluation form and sends them back to us.

What are the conditions that a school has to meet to benefit from Start a Library?

To partner and benefit from start a library, the school must agree to join the Reading Revolution campaign by signing an agreement that allows the following:

  • Nominate and facilitate two teachers for training in library management.
  • Ensure that there are opportunities for children to borrow the books in the library.
  • Facilitate book-club meetings during the government mandated weekly library lessons in every class.
  • Allow Reading Revolutionaries to run pre-scheduled read-aloud events at your school, and to make presentations about the importance of reading non-curricula to students, teachers and parents, and share related materials.
  • Allow Reading Revolutionaries to monitor, evaluate and measure usage of the library and reading-promotion activities at the school.
  • Allow students to participate in pre-scheduled county or national level library and reading competitions and promotional activities.

Can Start A Library support me in starting a library in a school of my choice?

Yes! To add your school to the list of potential beneficiaries, nominate your school here. If you wish to give a donation to your school of Ksh 50,000 or more, we will schedule a meeting with you to see how to make the dream a reality sooner rather than later!

I would like to build a community library in my area. Will Start A Library help?

Our focus at present is on starting libraries in schools. However, if you community library has the management to run it and basic infrastructure, and you are prepared to make a donation of Ksh 50,000 and above, contact us.

Ongoing Project

Give a Gift That Matters this Christmas Season!

On 5th December 2016, RAAW Trust through the Start-a-Library initiative will launch its second campaign to get books into public primary schools. Called ‘Gifts that Matter,’ the campaign will run between the 5th of December and the 31st of December 2016 and will encourage Kenyans to donate books to public primary schools.

Read More »

Storybooks on Mobile Phone!
Simulia provides beautiful children's stories by African authors and illustrators, as well as interactive exercises designed to build reading and comprehension.
Get it on Google Play


Get our Story