FAQs

What is Start a library?

Start a Library is a Kenyan reading promotion initiative that enhances access to storybooks for children and nurtures a culture of reading for pleasure. Storybooks are language text books that are key in building children’s vocabulary, expanding imagination, sparking curiosity, improving critical thinking hence contributing to overall academic excellence.

We believe that a child who reads is a child who thinks and storybooks are tools that will empower and equip them with the creativity and critical thinking skills to build and prepare a workforce that will drive the vision 2030 economy.

How does Start a Library work?

We start libraries in public primary schools by giving a library collection of 1,500 storybooks in both English and Kiswahili and capacity building the teacher librarians to be able to run functional school libraries. We also conduct school evaluation visits to monitor use and impact of the library to the reading habits of the pupils.

How can I donate or support Start a Library?

Individuals

  • Make a personal donation to PAYBILL NO.202211 or cheque to RAAW REG TRUSTEES/STARTALIBRARY.
  • Sign up as a reading ambassador and participate in Start a Library events in schools.
  • Rally support within personal networks e.g. chamas and alumni groups.

Schools

  • Participating in Start A Library events such as the National Read Aloud and weekly book clubs in schools.
  • Twinning- Privileged schools adopt under-privileged schools and use creative ways to raise resources to support installation and sustainability of libraries. Through this model, we will encourage schools to pay a fee to dress down as favorite book characters and share stories about that experience.
  • Writathons- these are writing competitions in schools where students contribute stories and pay for the words.

Corporates

  • Cash donation to start libraries in selected schools as part of corporate social investment
  • Engaging employees to participate in book club sessions in schools
  • Matching grants from schools and other organized groups
  • Distributing information about Start A Library  and the campaign on different platforms online and offline
  • Sponsoring writing workshops for students and other groups to create their own stories and/or stories of corporate interest
  • Above and below the line advertisement opportunities

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. The Read Aloud is one of our reading promotion activities and we do it in June on The Day of the African Child every Friday in schools.

Your school can take part in the Read Aloud by purchasing and reading from ‘Attack of the Shidas’ a science fiction story commissioned by the Kenya Human Rights Commission to teach and spark conversation with children on issues such as ethnic tolerance, identity and unity in diversity.

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, literary 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 1,500 uniquely selected 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.

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 613,368.6 or $ 6,133.686 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 exciting reading activities 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 send documentation of all activities and expenditure. We also publish details of the location of upcoming libraries and invite donors to accompany us to the launch ceremony and give them an opportunity to verify the books and talk to the teachers and pupils of the beneficiary school.

If for any reason you are not able to make it to the school during the library launch, we share a report and photos of the launch event.

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.
  • Incorporate and adhere to the government mandated weekly library lessons in the school timetable for every class.
  • Allow Reading Revolutionaries to run pre-scheduled reading promotion events at your school, and to make presentations about the importance of supplementary reading material 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. With a donation of KES 255,000 we will conduct pre-assessment evaluation of the school, train the teacher librarian and carry out post-installation evaluation after launch of the library.

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 the community library already has personnel to manage and run the daily activities of the library, we would give a complementary capacity building training on programming children’s reading promotion activities.

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