Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Quentin Blake's magical art inspiring Book Bus children to read

“It’s a real privilege to be associated with the Book Bus promoting literacy in Africa and South America,” declared world-renowned children’s illustrator and Book Bus Patron, Sir Quentin Blake in a recent interview with us at the Book Bus. 

Book Bus Patron Sir Quentin Blake 
“I think that the Book Bus does amazing work, introducing books to children in remote areas of the world where there are few or no books at all. Can you imagine that? Growing up in a world without books?” asked Quentin.

Our Book Bus mobile libraries are a central part of our literacy programme, sharing books and other literacy resources with children, schools and communities in remote areas of Ecuador, Malawi and Zambia. Quentin’s illustrations adorn each of our Book Buses ensuring they make a huge visual impact with children as they roll into schools, open areas in the African bush and along mountain roads in South America. 
The children welcome Book Bus Charlie 

"Can you imagine that? Growing up in a world without books?” 

 “One day the founder of the Book Bus and my then editor, Tom Maschler, asked if I could illustrate the very first Book Bus,” continued Quentin. “I had been creating illustrations for books for years but nothing as large as a bus. I was delighted to contribute to such a magnificent project.” 

“It was such a brilliant idea to decorate the Book Buses,” exclaimed Quentin. “I realised that many children probably didn’t have access to books so I wanted to create illustrations that would ignite their imagination, be fun and colourful and convey the pleasure of reading.”

Sir Quentin creating wonderful illustrations
And he certainly achieved that. Quentin created an array of spectacular colourful illustrations to decorate our 5 Book Buses, George, Matilda, Alfie, Tiger and Charlie named after Roald Dahl characters. Each piece conveys movement, gestures, atmosphere and a great sense of fun. It’s almost as if each character has their own story to tell. 

Quentin’s illustrations include a book cart packed full of children engrossed in reading, a young child lost in the adventure of their book as they hitch a ride on an elephant and a young girl reading a story with an inquisitive lion sitting behind her (is he listening to her story or eyeing up his lunch the children ask when they study the illustrations on the side of their Book Bus!).
As we rolled out our additional literacy programme in Ecuador, Quentin created new illustrations including a giant tortoise and an Alpaca.   

Sir Quentin's illustrations spark imaginations
Quentin continued: “No one starts their lives being able to read, but very quickly as children we make sense of the world around us by looking at shapes and colours.”

“If you can get children engaged first in illustrations, their curiosity will lead them to then enquire about the words. Reading comes very soon after this.”

“What struck me about the with the Book Bus and its supporters,” added Quentin “is that they are providing books to children to help them develop essential literacy skills. They are sowing an extraordinary crop that is going to have a harvest that will go on and on for these children for the rest of their lives. It's providing much more than just literacy - it’s opening a door to the future in an incredible way.”
"The Book Bus is providing much more than just literacy - it’s opening a door to the future in an incredible way.”

“Once you spark curiosity – well that’s like a machine that creates its own energy and if you can get books to these children, sit with them, talk to them, read with them and develop that enthusiasm for reading, then you really don’t know what wonders that will lead to in the future,” Quentin added.

Special illustrations for the readers of Ecuador
“I’m so proud of the work the Book Bus does and I’m deeply touched to be involved with this wonderful project.  It’s been around for more than 10 years now and I have no doubt it will be around for many more years. The effects of the Book Bus does, and will last much longer and go much, much further that even we can imagine” Quentin concluded.

In 2016 Sir Quentin launched our latest and boldest literacy project I am a Reader. We want to get 10,000 children in Malawi and Zambia reading by 2020. If you believe that all children should have an opportunity to learn how to read, join our campaign. 

Sunday, 26 February 2017

With a little help from our friends...

There are many wheels that keep the Book Bus community chugging along with delivering inspiring books for the 1000s of children on our literacy projects in Zambia and Malawi.  Not least of these are our friends at the National Police Aid Convoys (NPAC), the generous organisation that help us transport shipments of books over to Zambia every year.
NPAC deliver aid globally

The volunteer organisation NPAC was started by a group of serving police officers back in 1993, who decided to use their community influence and negotiating skills to deliver humanitarian aid to places that other NGOs couldn’t reach. These days, the hard-working group continue to provide emergency and development aid all over the world—including helping to  transport around  20- 30 containers of books to our Book Bus communities in Zambia each year. The organisation was recently awarded the Points of Light Award by PM Theresa May for their outstanding volunteer work.

We are honoured and delighted to be partners with the NPAC, and David Scott, the Head of the organisation, reiterates the importance of our partnership.

“People trust the police,” he says jokingly, though the sentiment rings true. “The influence of the NPAC means we can form good relationships in the community and get aid to where it is needed.” 

He goes on to commend the importance of the Book Bus. “Books are rare in Zambia. In fact they are like gold!” David says. 

The 9-tonne book shipment bound for  Zambia 
For the past 2 years the Book Bus has been working with NPAC transporting much needed books to our literacy projects in Livingstone, Kitwe and Mfuwe in Zambia. Our latest shipment left the UK in February  and is due to arrive in Zambia in the Spring. 

The 9-tonne shipment will deliver 1000s of much needed books to schools, libraries and direct into the hands of our book-loving children. Many people are involved in this epic task. Being able to read will ensure children get more out of their education, and helps them reach their full potential. It's difficult to learn how to read without access to books and that's where these much needed books are of great value. 
Inspiring books delivered for children to read 

With the help of the NPAC, the Book Bus looks forward to continuing to bring the joy of reading to communities in Zambia, powered by the hearts and hands of the many volunteers who contribute to the work of the NPAC. The Book Bus is very grateful to David and his team at NPAC for the work they're doing in helping change children's lives one book at a time...

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Writing their names with pride

Stella Msosa
We can never anticipate the ripple effects one of our reading programmes might have on a local community. What started as a Book Bus reading programme for 80 children  – inspired 60 women to empower themselves to learn how to do something we all take for granted – how to sign their own names.

“The women had never learnt to read and write. In some communities this is not seen as important for women,” says local Nasenga teacher Stella Msosa.

40% illiteracy 

Adult illiteracy in Mangochi, Malawi, the area where our Book Bus literacy project is based, is around 40%.  It’s disproportionally women that are illiterate and this impacts on their lives in a negative way every day.  

For example said Stella, “To access basic health care, forms need to be read and a signature is required. Many women never went to school, married at 14 and spent most of their lives having, and bringing up children. This meant many local women were unable to read forms or sign their own name and had to pay another member of the community to do this for them – money they could not afford to give”, explained Stella.

"We too wanted to learn how to read"
The Book Bus has been working with children in Stella’s primary school, known as Nasenga in Mangochi for almost two years, supporting teachers with our ‘I am a Reader’ literacy programme. Sharing books with inspiring stories is key to getting children engaged in books. 

The children went home to the village each week, excited by stories they had heard at their Book Bus sessions. This ignited the women’s curiosity and many visited the school to hear their children read for the first time. 

"I was so proud hearing my daughter read" 

Women like 38 year old Josephine Simba. “I married very early and now have 10 children. My daughter was learning to read through the Book Bus programme at her school. I watched her as she picked up a book and began to read. I was so proud. I then decided that I must learn how to read myself. That’s when some of the women approached Stella at the school to see if she could help,” she explained. 

Women attended classes for 12 months 
Over the next 12 months Stella ran literacy classes once a week for the women. The Book Bus supported the programme with books, pens, paper and chalk. One year later, the women can now write their names and many have also started reading. 

“It’s wonderful to see and be part of,” says Stella. “It’s never too late to learn how to read and I’m now hoping more women join us so they too can learn how to read and become more independent”.

The ripple effects 

The Book Bus provided literacy support
“We always measure the impact of our reading programmes with children, says Book Bus project worker, Marian Forkin “However it’s a real joy to hear how the ripple effects of some programmes impact on lives way beyond the classroom to empower women in some of the world’s poorest communities, We're all very proud to have been part of this programme,“ she concludes.

Find out more about the Book Bus "I am a Reader" programme.  

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Beep, beep! Here come Book Bus Matilda...

After a journey of more than 8,000 miles across the wide oceans, stunning desert landscapes and three country borders, Book Bus Matilda finally arrived at her new home in Malawi. 

The children of Mangochi welcome Matilda 

Over the next few years Matilda will be our mobile library bringing much needed books to children on our reading programmes. 

Our Book Bus literacy project moved to Mangochi in central Malawi in 2015. Located by the great Lake Malawi, it is an area with the highest illiteracy rate in the country with over 35% of the population unable to read. We aim to help to tackle this with literacy support programmes.

Our local project team has been delivering a reading and literacy programme to 100s of children every day… but without the use of an actual Book Bus. The local team used bikes, backpacks and their own leg power to walk to schools to bring the joy of reading to their local community.

Mike Masumba 
“Of course we were always welcomed by teachers and pupils alike,“ said Book Bus Project Manager Mike Masumba. “The children looked forward to our visit to read books and take part in all the activities we offer to help a child learn how to read. However sometimes the children asked why we were called the Book Bus. ‘Where’s the Bus?’ they’d ask inquisitively. We always said, “One day we will have a Book Bus in Mangochi – it will happen!” Mike said. 

And it did happen thanks to the generous people of Motovun – a consortium of European publishers. 

“We were keen to support a charity that promotes reading and the book, “ said Jean Arcache from Motovun.  “We all loved the work of the Book Bus as it is run by local teams, works in partnership with teachers and puts the book at the centre of learning for literacy", he concluded. 

Matilda always attracts a crowd! 
From the moment Matilda arrived, she’s had a big impact in the local area. Wherever the Book Bus goes, children follow, attracted by the wonderful Quentin Blake illustrations that adorn all of our Book Buses. 

“We hope that Matilda will get more and more children curious about books and reading,“ says Mike. “This way we will be well on our way to create a permanent reading culture in our community and help children become more independent and in control of their own lives as they grow up to become adults”. 

You can help keep our Book Buses on the road by adopting Matilda from as little as £5 a month. 

From the page to the waves - a broadcast from Puerto Lopez

Our pioneering Book Bus team in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, are always coming up with new ways to engage locals with the world of books and learning. Their latest venture is a radio programme that encourages good educational habits, with a focus on children's reading.

The weekly programme is primarily aimed at parents, Arturo Rodriguez, Book Bus Project Coordinator in the region, explains. "We want to encourage them to read to their kids regularly. But also, the parents really enjoy it themselves." The programme features fun stories, as well as discussion and advice. It's already received glowing reviews and the team look forward to connecting more with locals through the airwaves.

But the creativity doesn't end there. Music has always played a big part in Book Bus activities, and the kids love it! So our talented Arturo, with the help of singer Sylvia Reilly, volunteers and locals, has created a song for the Book Bus, aptly called Love we Love. The video was filmed in Puerto Lopez and features a lot of friendly faces! Check it out here.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

A delivery service with a difference: Abel and Cole jump on board to help collect your books straight from home

The Book Bus has been a part of many wonderful partnerships over the years, and we’re happy to be working with the kind folks at Abel and Cole with their Big Book Collection specially run for the Book Bus.

http://www.abelandcole.co.uk/Abel and Cole are an ethical food delivery service, bringing “boxes of organic brilliance to your door”. They’ve brought much health and happiness into homes across the UK, and now they’re working with us to help bring the same to our kids in Africa and South America.

In August and September, many of you filled your Abel and Cole box with children’s books for 3 – 6 year olds. The books collected will be donated to our Book Bus programs in Malawi, Zambia, Ecuador and right here in the UK.

From your home to theirs. There’s never been an easier opportunity to help out. Get in touch with any questions at organics@abelandcole.co.uk.