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.
Kenyan parents no longer buy storybooks for their children because over the years, there has been a wrongly held notion that reading storybooks is a waste of time and that storybooks do not add any value on the child’s performance is school.
Instead, parents focus on buying textbooks, revision books, encyclopedias and past examination papers so that their children can read, memorise and duplicate the content when sitting for national examinations. In fact, even the government grant for free primary education only caters for the textbooks of examinable subjects and nothing is left for storybooks and supplementary books.
To achieve the goal of putting a book in every hand, we work with various partners. Some of the partners we have worked with so far include Ingredion who helped us start up a library at Kabete Vetlab Primary School; Varkey Foundation who helped us start up 8 libraries in 4 days in Nairobi; Ideal Ceramics who supported a library at Living Positively Daycare, Ngong; Aga Khan Academy who supported a library at N. Highridge Primary School. Other supporters have been the Tejcheve Foundation, Kenya Charity Sweepstake (KCS) Trust, Westlands Constituency, as well as numerous individuals who feature in our Hall of Heroes.
Individual and corporate 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.
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.