Creating havens for children

The Book Havens we create provide spaces where children’s reading and learning can flourish.

The challenge

Too many children in Africa and around the world are growing up in a world without books. They live in families where parents are struggling even to put food on the table, so buying books is simply not possible. Schools almost never have reading books, and pupils must share a textbook between up to 14 pupils. In some cases, these children may not even have held a storybook.

Children living in slum conditions, like Mathare slum in Nairobi shown here, face hyuge challenges

Without access to books, children may never have the chance to expand their horizons through education or experience the joy of reading a story that transports them to another world. They have few opportunities to develop their talents and are unlikely to reach their full potential.

Coming together to create community libraries

Where governments are unable to provide the resources and services that communities need to enrich young readers’ lives, many have come together to create their own libraries. These community libraries differ enormously. Some are run by churches or  not-for-profit organisations, while others are wholly community-run, with individuals pooling their limited resources to gather books and maintain a shared space.

Children reading in a small, informal library

Community libraries have the potential to offer a vital haven where children can discover books, but they are almost always run by volunteers or staff who have no formal librarian training and few have the funds to buy books. As a result, librarians often find it difficult to provide effective support for young readers.

Creating Book Havens for children

We are working with Community Libraries around the world to create Book Havens where children’s reading and learning can flourish. In each library, we offer:

– Training in how to support, engage and inspire young readers
– Funds to refurbish the library’s space to ensure it is welcoming and child-friendly
– A grant to purchase locally published books which reflect children’s own experiences and may be in local languages
– A collection of brand new children’s books from here in the UK
– Support to develop new ways of working with local schools to encourage children to visit the library and read

We will also work with each library to help it become more sustainable in the long-term by providing general library management training and linking community libraries with more established local libraries.

Together, the training, funds, books and support we provide will transform under-resourced community libraries into inspiring, welcoming spaces where children will have the opportunity to discover books, read and reach their full potential for year so to come.

Our progress so far

The first Book Havens are now open in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya, and are being well used by local children. Find out more

Help create havens for reading

You can help us create more Book Havens by:

Making a donation. Every £2 you give helps to send a book
Fundraising for our charity. From a book swap to a bake sale, your gifts will ensure that we can open more Book Havens around the world
Leaving a gift in your Will. By remembering us in your Will you can help countless children access the books they need to write the next chapter in their own lives.

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