Spreading literacy one book at
a time Headline
“A parent gave me the idea by forwarding me the African Library Project website,” said Linda Mauer, Librarian at Glenwood Elementary, “About two months ago, I shared it with a group of students, the Philosophers Club.”
The fifth grade students and Mauer discussed the problems of illiteracy and what it would be like to grow up with few or no books.
“We talked about what it means to be illiterate, and how many children in Africa don’t have access to books or a library,” said Mauer, “It was quite an eye-opener for them.”
The group determined that this was a project they needed to take on.
“This group is very well-known for their service learning projects,” said Mauer. “Last year they collected 500 books and 125 blankets for the Lake Stevens Family Center and also helped the N.O.A.H. Animal Shelter. This year we decided to go more global.”
The African Library Project’s mission is to increase literacy in Africa by creating and improving small libraries.
In the six weeks of collecting, Glenwood students gathered more than 3000 books to send to three different villages in Africa. Sunnycrest Elementary also participated in the project and raised 1400 books.
“For each 1000 collected, a new library is created in a different village,” said Linda Mauer. “Between the two schools, the Lake Stevens community has provided four villages with libraries.”
In the process of gathering donated books, the Glenwood students learned about the people who the books are being sent to.
One of the things they learned is that Africa has the highest percentage of illiteracy in the world.
The students were moved when they learned that across the great continent of Africa, a landmass that is four times the size of the U.S., most children grow up without books.
Mauer explained that many African instructors must teach reading, writing math and English without a single book at their disposal.
“I was really hyped up about this project because I knew we’d be helping to improve the illiteracy rate in Africa,” said Dylan Blair, “I would like to make a difference.”
Wearing hand-crafted T-shirts with self-created slogans, the students went into the different classrooms, spreading the news of the project and sent letters out promoting book donations.
Within six weeks, they’d gathered 3000 books that will be sent to three villages in Botswana.
“It feels so awesome to know that you’re helping people to learn and giving them something new for their lives,” said Caitlin Sparks.
Kate McCartney agreed and said, “We’re helping to open up doors that could not have been opened before.”
The schools who gather the donated books are also responsible for shipping them to the villages. The cost of shipping is approximately one dollar per one pound.
The students are holding a magazine drive, the proceeds of which will go toward postage.
“We’re also willing to take any donations to help send these books,” said Mauer, adding that several community members and parents have already donated money.
Their goal is to ship the books by April 11.