desired scenario

our approach

About 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. The appalling statistics from the Uwezo Literacy and numeracy research conducted across East Africa; reveal a serious literacy crisis. Reading storybooks is key in building children’s vocabulary, expanding imagination, sparking curiosity, improving critical thinking hence contributing to overall academic excellence. The UK’s Department for Education in its research on reading for pleasure cites evidence that shows that indeed reading for pleasure enhances both the child’s educational excellence as well as personal development.

About the Cause

The lack of access to exciting and relevant reading materials means our children are grossly disadvantaged and do not possess the required literacy levels. There are no Kenyan specific studies detailing the impact of reading for pleasure on academic performance but the Uwezo reports reveals devastating statistics that less than 1/3 of children in class 3 have basic class 2 level literacy and numeracy skills.

Start A Library (SAL) is on a mission to start libraries in primary schools while creating interest & excitement in books and reading through creative and innovative reading promotion programmes. We are committed to enhancing access to storybooks, the kind that whet the appetite for discovery, imagination and critical thinking. Storybooks help children increase their vocabulary, nurture creativity and improve critical thinking.

Our achievements to date:

  • Installing libraries in Schools

Over the last three years, we have worked with numerous partners and also run a successful campaign dubbed Story for Chela, which sought to raise funds to set up libraries in primary schools. To date we have set up 137 libraries impacting over 500,000 children in 11 counties across the country.

  • Partnership with County Governments

In order to ensure sustainability of the libraries, we have partnered with County Governments to start 30 model libraries in each County. This will guarantee continued support in terms of funding and support systems. It also fosters local ownership and participation in library development. The beneficiary schools also make a contribution through the parents.

  • Capacity building for teacher and student librarians

The journey to nurture a generation of lifelong readers requires more than just availability of books. There is need to impart library management skills to both teacher and student librarians. This will in turn create a vibrant library where books are brought to life.

  • National Read Aloud

This is the largest gathering of Kenyan children reading aloud from the same text and at the same time in multiple locations. This exercise is conducted every last Friday of the month and on the Day of the African Child – June 16th. The current official world record of the most people reading simultaneously at the same time from multiple locations is held by the USA with 223,363 people in 909 venues.

Our Objectives

  • Position development of libraries in schools as a National, political and development agenda
  • Demystify libraries as big and costly buildings
  • Advocate for reading as a lifelong culture
  • Raise funds and resources to start libraries in disadvantaged primary schools in Kenya
  • Lobby for support to enforce library lessons in schools
  • Position development of libraries as an important development agenda for both County and National governments
  • Publicize the role and value of storybooks and other supplementary reading materials in increasing literacy and overall academic success
  • Champion and advocate for reading as a lifelong culture

How We Partner

1) With Individuals:

  • Make a personal donation to PAYBILL NO.522522. Then enter the KCB account no.1124516042. Enter the amount to send or write a 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. alumni groups and professional communities

2) With Schools:

  • Participating in Start A Library events such as the reading marathon 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.

3) With 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

Our Implementation Plan


Selection of Beneficiary Schools

The process of identifying beneficiary schools is done in consultation with the partner. Where necessary, we consult with the County Education office. We are keen to start libraries in public primary schools where no library exists.


Pre-installation assessment & documentation

This is done once the schools have been identified. We administer tools to collect information on the current status of the students’ reading habits, academic performance, available books and capacity of teachers to manage the library before the commencement of the project.


Collection development & Book Processing

Each school library receives a minimum donation of 1,000 new, assorted & age-appropriate storybooks in English and Kiswahili. The books are stamped and assigned numbers/codes (for tracking and ease of accessibility) before they are delivered to the schools.


Training and capacity building for teachers and student librarians

We conduct a 3-day training for teachers (2 teachers from each of school). We also conduct training for 2 students from each class (Class 4-8) in all schools. The students serve as student librarians to support the teacher librarians.


Library Installation

This is the official ceremony for handing over the library to the school management and will involve the entire school community including students, teachers, school management, and parents.


Post- installation library support

This support will be extended beyond the installation ceremony. Our teams of reading revolutionaries work closely with the schools to develop a library timetable and a programme of weekly reading promotion activities. They visit the schools frequently to support the design and management of the library, offer additional training and assist in the delivery of reading activities. Our focus is on skills transfer to ensure the reading promotion activities are accepted and sustained beyond the project duration.


Documentation, Sharing and Learning

Submission of reports
Participate in quarterly meetings and forums
Contributions in publications( print and online newsletters)

Get our Story