Library Nerds, Room to Read and Amphibian Bling

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear John Wood, Founder and Executive Chairman of Room To Read speak. Not only is John proud to be a library nerd, he's proud of the accomplishments of the organization he started. Room To Read is an international literacy organization that believes that world change starts with educated children.  

In the ten years since Leaving Microsoft to Change the World  John and Room to Read have established 1,128 schools and 10,000 libraries in Nepal, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Sri Lanka, Laos, India, South Africa, Zambia and Bangledesh. 

In addition, the organization has published 433 local language children's books, distributed 7.4 million books, and provided nearly 9,000 secondary scholarships for girls in those countries.

Room to Read’s programs have reached more than four million children as of 2010 and hopes to improve literacy for ten million children by 2015.
John is a genuine and engaging speaker. His focus is on raising the funding and letting those in the countries they participate in do what they do best. All the teachers, librarians, writers, illustrators, editors and publishers are local. They run programs in countries where the local governments and school boards are committed to sending children to school and keeping the schools and libraries operational. 
I donated a copy of Dead Frog on the Porch to John for Room to Read. Hopefully some youngster in one of those countries will be reading the adventures of twin sisters Cyd and Jane as they save the world one frog at a time. 
Here's a picture of John with my book and me with his book. 
What you can't see in this picture is the incredible piece of amphibian bling I picked up recently in china town in New York!
Oh, did I forget to mention that Room to Read realized that it's great to get donations of books already published in English, but it's also important for children to learn to read in their mother tongue. So Room to Read has established a Local Language Publishing program to create culturally appropriate children's books in their own language that will spark their imaginations. In some countries Room to Read is the biggest publisher of children's books. As John says, they are the "largest children's book publisher you've never heard of."  
Maybe it's our prairie roots that draw us to John's philosophy of GSD - get stuff done! Thirteen year old Samantha Terry of Taber, Alberta did the prairie equivalent of raising a barn for Room to Read. She raised more than $10,000 to build a school in Nepal! Way to go Samantha - you rock something awesome!
Left to Right: Samantha's Mom, Leann Hackman-Carty, and Samantha Terry.
Take a minute (or 20) tonight to read to yourself, your children, write a letter (or a blog post), buy a book for a friend, look up a word in your on-line dictionary and generally appreciate your literacy and its role in making your life what it is today. 
Be proud to be a library nerd!


We are so lucky. I wish more children realized it. I teach history, and I'm always trying to drill in the heads of my students how the right to be educated is a pretty recent phenomenon and still doesn't exist everywhere.

If you get a chance, stop by my blog "Substitute Teacher's Saga". From 10/28-11/1 I'm hosting a Halloween Haunting. There are prizes!
Jan Markley said…
That is so true Theresa! I like your blog and I'll stop by again to check out the prizes!
Lynda Young said…
Room to Read sounds like an amazing initiative.
Oh, and I love your frog bling ;)
Jan Markley said…
Lynda: It is a cool organization. Glad you love my bling!
Solvang Sherrie said…
What an impressive way to make a difference in the lives of kids.

I would definitely qualify as a library nerd. In fact, one of my dream jobs is to be the librarian at a school :)
Talli Roland said…
What a great post, Jan - and you're right! We should be proud to be library nerds!

And I love that little frog!
Jan Markley said…
Talli and Sherrie: It is a cool organization. Good to know you'd both qualify as library nerds as would I. I love my frog bling as well!
Angela said…
Wow! John is amazing, but Samantha is out of this world!!!
Jan Markley said…
I totally agree with you Angela - Samantha is one cool teenager!
Peter said…
Great post Jan. Super interesting. Glad he is focusing on local resources - the "locals" always know better than us outsiders who will eventually leave one day. I wonder if John has linked up with the UN's focus on 100% literacy as part of the Millenium Development Goals?


Jan Markley said…
Thanks Pete! He was a super interesting guy to listen to. I agree the approach to use the people who live there, who are already working in that field, is the best approach. He's a pretty well clued in guy so I suspect he knows about the UN's literacy goals. I should look into those myself!
sam terry said…
Jan, just got sent this buy someone and I am so happy that you are useing your means to spead the word about this amazing organization
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Sam! Happy to spread the word, it is an amazing organization. In fact, I purchased some gifts of literacy for some family members this Christmas that will put books in schools in India!

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