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. 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

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Book Bus Holiday Reading Programme in South Luangwa, Zambia

The Book Bus team in South Luangwa are Raj and Monica from Zambia and Adrian and David from UK . They are on the road to schools and libraries in the area from 6th to 20th August and you can follow their adventures on this blog throughout the month.

Blog Post 1: Sharing your dinner with Elmer

There can't be many places in the world where the main threat to eating your dinner is a passing Elephant, South Luangwa is one of these places. Our base in South Luangwa is Croc Valley,  a camp placed on the river directly opposite the National Park. When you open your tent here in the morning you see Africa in wide screen. The savannah woodlands opposite the camp is primeval and at sunrise it emerges from the night as if the lights had been switched on, here live leopards, lions, giraffes, zebra and pretty much every other species for which Africa is famous. Nature provides this dramatic backdrop to a growing human population attracted to the area by opportunities in tourism and agriculture.

Every year the Book Bus runs a holiday programme to get children into books by promoting reading for pleasure. This year we are taking stories from around the world and localising the content to match the children's everyday lives, for example here we are surrounded by hippos with not a bear in sight!  This develops creativity and imagination in the children and improves their overall reading and writing skills. Week one of the project is underway and over 60 children are attending the programme every morning at our project base in Uyoba Community Library. Children from Pre School to Grade 6 are enjoying the books and activities that Book Bus George and his crew bring every day.

Arian is our storyteller par excellence and he kicked off the programme with a stirring rendition of "Have you seen Elephant?" followed by "The Lion Inside" and "How the Elephant got his trunk". Adrian was ably assisted by a menagerie of puppets and the children were soon squealing with delight. Part of our programme here is to share the techniques and methods we have developed with the library staff and local volunteers. This ensures that the programme continues after our departure.

So, where does Elmer come into all of this? Look carefully at the photo below for the tusks of the uninvited guest at our dinner table.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

A Perfect Partnership: working with the youth of Zambia

On a fateful day back in March, Kitwe’s Book Bus George met a special group of people at the Youth Day Exhibition at Copperbelt University. Like the Book Bus, the Piggy Bank Campaign—run by students at the university—was working towards aiding literacy and education in local school and communities. So wouldn’t it make sense for the two initiatives to work together?

Zambian Youth Day exhibition
“They had people, we had resources,” Monica Mulenga, Book Bus Country Director in Zambia explains. And thus a perfect match was made.

Fuelled by the mantra, ‘Your change can change lives’, the youth-run Piggy Bank Campaign raises funds to send Copperbelt University students to small underprivileged schools in the area. With them, the students bring their own laptops and a wealth of knowledge—IT skills, maths, engineering, economics, biology—to aid teachers in the classroom. Similarly, the Book Bus program in Kitwe relies on local volunteer power to visit schools Monday to Friday, reading and running arts and craft activities for the kids.

“The Book Bus has books, our bus George, and plenty of materials, but needs more people,” Monica elaborates. “Piggy Bank has plenty of students willing to volunteer, but lacks resources. So we work together to bring extra help and resources to the schools and communities.”

Piggy Bank Youth Group help with Book Bus reading sessions
In the first four weeks of working together, the partnership blossomed, engaging school kids in fun and educational activities every Friday. “We played games, danced to various songs and most important of all, read for and with the children. Parents and teachers took part in these activities too!” says Bwalya Caroline Chimba, Book Bus Kitwe Reading Coordinator.

The partnership has other benefits too. While the Piggy Bank initiative currently only has the capacity to visit schools on Friday, the Book Bus provides an extra opportunity for willing students to come help at schools on any weekday.

As well as providing support to teachers in classrooms, the Piggy Bank team also use their volunteer power to build community schools and classrooms in small villages.

Celebrating a perfect partnership 
“Education is the biggest weapon one can use to fight poverty. It is the silver bullet that both empowers the citizens and develops the country,” 

No-one can argue with that...

Book Bus Alfie: A shining star in Ecuador earthquake aftermath

"Book Bus Alfie has been the star for us. Everywhere we went, Alfie brought books for the kids.”

Back in April, a huge earthquake rocked coastal Ecuador, impacting many small communities including Puerto Lopez where our Book Bus programme is based. According to UNICEF, over 150,000 children have been affected.

In the wake of the earthquake’s devastating damage, the Book Bus and its volunteers have been working tirelessly to bring emotional and physical support to affected children and their families.

“After the earthquake, there were many people living unsafely in their destroyed houses,” says Arturo Rodriguez, Book Bus Project Manager in Puerto Lopez. “Now they are becoming homeless due to local municipalities needing them to move. The number of people living in refugee camps is increasing daily, but some families don’t want to move to the camps, so they stay outside, in the street…”

Homelessness is only one of many issues arising from the earthquake’s damage. Puerto Lopez and surrounding areas are also experiencing educational, economic and emotional instability following the quake. So how is the Book Bus helping?

“Book Bus Alfie has been the star for us,” Arturo goes on. “Everywhere we went, Alfie brought books for the kids, as well as help, people, balloons and everything that’s needed to try to get things back to normal. The objective is to give kids and their families emotional support.”

The Book Bus is also working closely with partner organisations, such as Fundacion Ecuador Tierra Viva, who are running a project in Las Lagunas—a small nearby community—bringing donations and small temporary houses to families whose homes were destroyed. The Puerto Lopez Book Bus team have also helped to distribute hundreds of copies of “Trinka yJuan: el día que se movió la tierra (Trinka y Juan: the day that the earthmoved”) – a book and social initiative started after the earthquakes in Chile and Nepal, intended to help families and children deal with the emotional stress following an earthquake. 

But there’s still more to be done. “We have a project to rebuild small schools around the province,” Arturo explains. “We also need to continue our project in the most affected zone. This work requires funds for gas, mechanical equipment for Alfie, materials for the kids and other expenses.”

Arturo and the other generous Book Bus and partner volunteers have seen first-hand the difference the project and donations can make in the wake of a disaster.

“Not much would have been possible without Alfie and the Book Bus programme,” Arturo continues. “Once the situation is controlled from the damage, it’s time to work towards getting back to normal.”

You can help Arturo, Alfie and the Book Bus team in Puerto Lopez make that happen. Donate today 

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Voices of Africa - Roseby Gadama, Librarian in Malawi

Voices of Africa is a new monthly Book Bus feature, sharing stories from inspiring voices in the various Book Bus communities. Each piece will be brought to you in the storyteller’s own words. We hope you will enjoy the series.
Malawian Librarian, Roseby Gadama

“My name is Roseby Gadama and I am a Librarian at Malawi National Library Service in Blantyre . My first job was in teaching. I was a primary school teacher for some years but I thought of exploring other avenues. I applied at the Malawi National Library Service as the job itself was not very different from what I was doing in teaching. As a teacher I was imparting knowledge and information to the pupils and as a Librarian my main duty is to share books and information.

"I’m Head of the Extra-Mural Service Department in the Southern part of Malawi which is comprised of 13 districts. The department mainly deals with outreach programmes like establishing and organising new libraries, distributing books from different donors to the National Library centres and other beneficiaries in the region, monitoring and assessing libraries and also equipping other people with library basic training.

"I joined the National Library with a little knowledge of Librarianship but wanted to develop this knowledge to become who I am today. My main challenge was the time I went to study for my Degree in Library and Information Studies. It was very challenging because I had to leave my family, husband and two children behind to study in Botswana. We also had to find all the fees for this degree. It wasn’t easy for my husband who had to support me, the family and lots of other financial commitments too. It was worth it though as now I’m qualified and in a stable job.

"The library I work in serves a community of more than 100,000 people. It is the largest public library in Blantyre. The library has 200 seats and everyday every seat is occupied with people studying. Other readers sit on the floor and the ground outside the library as so many people want to use our service. Efforts are being made either to extend the recent library or to erect some chalets outside the library so that readers who could not find space inside could have some shelter but it is proving difficult due to lack of funding.
Encouraging children to read 

"I come from the village in the Eastern Region where many children don’t go to school due to the long walking from the village to school. In fact there’s no school in my village (no kindergarten or primary school or whatsoever) - to have a library or a resource centre would be a luxury.

"Being a teacher and now a librarian, it is my dream to have the children from my local area to have a school nearby and a library. A library would help them in many ways, because that’s where they’d learn more about health, farming, food and nutrition, human rights, academic information, current affairs or just leisure.
Roseby joins fellow librarian Nancy for a Book Bus storytelling session

"I appreciate the work being done by The Book Bus in Malawi by promoting education and reading to the needy children in the remote areas. Indeed it might look like things aren’t changing today when the Book Bus visits the schools and do some storytelling and some games. But in the long term children’s’ lives are changing little by little and at the end of the day they will never be the same.

"My message to the Book Bus? Keep it up THE BOOK BUS!!" J

Rose Gadama works for the National Library Service at Blantyre library.

Tom Maschler: The man behind the Book Bus

Founder of the Book Bus: Tom Maschler
As part of our 10th anniversary celebrations, we are sharing the stories of some of the people who have joined us on our journey. Our first feature tells the story of Book Bus Founder, Tom Maschler. 

Tom Maschler’s career in publishing spanned over 50 years. As editorial director at Jonathan Cape publishers he discovered and published some of the best known authors in the world including Ian McEwan, Joseph Heller, Doris Lessing, Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  He persuaded the Booker brothers to create the Booker Prize (now the Man Booker Prize) to celebrate the very best in literature. He’s a man that clearly spots an opportunity and gets things done. 

"I had spent my life surrounded by authors, illustrators and books and as retirement approached I began to think about what was next," explained Tom as he settled down for a chat about how he founded the global literacy charity, The Book Bus. 

"I still had lots of energy and drive. Throughout my career I had always wanted to do some kind of charitable work but never seemed to have the time. Then as my retirement approached my wife, Regina sparked an idea in my head and that propelled me into action."

She told me: "You’ve spent your whole life surrounded by books. You’ve always wanted to do something of value in Africa. Now is the time. Why not share your love of books with people that don’t have any?" 

This stirred something inside Tom and inspired him to carry out his wish. 

"I began to think about all the children who’d never had the opportunity to hold a book, to look at beautiful illustrations and never had the chance to learn how to read. I began to think about all the lost opportunities that would mean for these children. I knew this was the time for me to do something that would help." 

Tom’s idea was simple enough: buy a bus, fill it with children’s books and bring it to a place where children don’t have any books at all. 

That was back in 2006 and ten years later Tom's idea is now a successful literacy development programme operating across four continents and six countries.
Tiger the 1st Book Bus in Zambia 

The Book Bus now has five mobile Book Bus libraries working in impoverished communities in Ecuador, Malawi and Zambia, bringing books and the joy of reading to over 150,000 children. It builds static libraries and reading corners in schools and employs local teams as reading champions who help spread a reading culture in their local area.  

How it started  

"I flew to Zambia with a colleague to do a bit of research about how a Book Bus might be received. I knew there was a need for books, but would a Bus be the right way to introduce books to local communities?" 

Tom’s concerns soon disappeared as support for his Book Bus idea grew and grew. 

"I was simply overwhelmed by the support I received from local communities, education representatives, church leaders and the government. I was confident that this project would work, so I returned to England to start making my dream a reality." 

Tom’s dream was to initially buy a double-decker bus. "Can you imagine that travelling through the streets of Lusaka? But I was (quite rightly) dissuaded against this and instead bought a single-decker Tiger Leyland bus. The idea was fill this with books and then ship it over to Zambia." 

Tom put out a call out to his hundreds of publishing colleagues for resources and the books came flooding in by the thousands. The bus seats were taken out and replaced with shelving to house the books.

Decorating the Book Buses 

“I absolutely had a sense that something wasn’t quite right as I looked at the bus – it was just an ordinary bus. I really wanted it to make an impact and then I had an idea to decorate it with beautiful illustrations that would be eye-catching and draw children to the bus." 

And who better to ask than the best children’s illustrator in the world Sir Quentin Blake? Tom’s instinctive talent for spotting literacy success brought Quentin Blake and children’s author Roald Dahl together in the 1970s to form one of the most successful partnerships that publishing has seen. 
Sir Quentin's illustrations adorn the Book Buses 

“Quentin was so pleased to be asked to decorate the Book Bus. He’s never provided artwork for a bus and was absolutely thrilled to take on the challenge. The illustrations Quentin created were simply beautiful and so perfect. They are bright, beautiful and each character has a secret story to tell that will enthuse and inspire curious children to step inside the Book Bus.” 

Tom’s life-long talent to make things happen didn’t stop there. "I wanted to make an impact and get as much publicity as possible for the Book Bus before it left the UK."  After many meetings and hours of negotiation Tom managed to persuade Westminster Council to allow the Book Bus to be driven onto Trafalgar Square for all to see before it set off for Zambia. 

"It was a great night bringing everyone together who had been so passionate about getting this project off the ground. Of course, being England, it poured with rain that night, but that didn’t stop our supporters from hopping on board our Book Bus to admire the thousands of books packed and ready for their journey to Zambia."
Book Bus Tiger in Trafalgar Square

In 2007 Tiger, the very first Book Bus was driven to Zambia to begin working as a mobile library. 

‘This was the time that I began to step back, the Book Bus became a charity and was run by a team of experts ensuring we brought the right books to the right communities, continued Tom. 

It wasn’t long before the second project was opened in Livingstone and then across the border in neighbouring country Malawi shortly followed by another two projects in Ecuador. 

As the project grew, so did the number of Book Buses all now named after Roald Dahl characters: Charlie, Matilda, George and Alfie. Since 2006 the Book Buses have travelled more than 250,000 miles working across four continents and five countries. Books have been placed in the hands of 150,000 children and they are now enjoying the rich experience that books and stories can bring.

Local & international volunteers 

"We’ve had so many reading volunteers from around the world who have joined the Book Bus in Ecuador, Malawi and Zambia, reading with children and having lots of fun. I visited the project in Livingstone myself and saw first-hand the joy, excitement and enthusiasm for the Book Bus as it rolls into a school. The children were running along side welcoming us. It was amazing to experience this." 
Volunteers from around the world help children to read

"I’m immensely proud of what the Book Bus has done. We’ve relied on the generosity of people who have donated their time, books and funds to get this project off the ground and to keep it going. These people understand the importance of literacy and reading and how being able to read really can change people’s lives." 

Nowadays Tom is still involved in the Book Bus as much as he can.  "Looking back some people said the Book Bus was a crazy idea, but it was a dream of mine and of course you should never give up on a dream,” he concludes.  

There’s no doubt 150,000 children out there who would agree with Tom…

Monday, 18 April 2016

Walking with words across Yorkshire

Book Bus Volunteer Gail Richards is walking 200kms across West Yorkshire to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Book Bus and raise funds. Below are some of Gail's highlights from week one, as she walked more than 50kms across the Yorkshire landscape.

All's calm as Gail begins her 200km walk

Colourful artwork on route to Wakefield 
Pupils from Calder High School present their stories for Gail to share 

Spen Valley Art Trail 

Reading Mr Happy in Roger Hargreaves country 

Reading Mr Happy to attentive sheep 
At the end of the valley with Alison & Kirsty

At Hepworth Art Gallery 
Calder & Hubble Navigation Canal signage

Thanks to everyone who has supported Gail along the way
Help Gail raise £10,000 for the Book Bus 

Monday, 11 April 2016

Jump aboard the Book Bus at London Book Fair

Book Bus Matilda, the latest edition to our mobile library bus fleet, is making an appearance at this years London Book Fair before she heads off to the warm heart of Africa, Malawi. 

​Adorned with beautiful illustrations by the world famous children's Illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake visitors to the London Book Fair at Olympia can jump abroad Matilda and find out how mobile libraries are empowering communities and helping engage children in reading. 

Book Bus Matilda will then set off on a 7,000 mile journey to become a mobile children's library in Mangochi, Malawi along the shore of Lake Malawi. 

The Book Bus is a UK based charity which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. It works in Ecuador, Malawi and Zambia sharing books and supporting teachers and communities with their literacy programmes. 
Over the last 10 years the Book Bus has shared books with more than 100,000 children around the world.

Said Book Bus Director David Gordon, 
"We're delighted that we're taking part in this prestigious world London Book Fair. We're proud to be part of a global network of organisation helping to improve literacy which is a key skill for everyone in today's world. Every day our local team in Malawi is out in the community sharing books with schools and making reading fun. Matilda, our latest Book Bus, will ensure we spread the love of reading and help empower communities so they can have more opportunities and choices over their own lives," he concluded. 

International publishers, Motovun have kindly sponsored the new Book Bus, Matilda. 

Visitors to the London Book Fair are invited to pop along to stand 5D148 in the lower west hall and met the team and hear how our in-country teams are changing the world through the power of reading. 

More information: 

0208 099 9280


Monday, 4 April 2016

A reading programme with impact

“My favourite book is The Hare and the Tortoise. I like the way the tortoise takes his time but wins the race,” says 10 year old Angela Beaston. 

Angela celebrates her reading test results

Angela is one of 180 children on the Book Bus reading support programme in Mangochi, Malawi. 

It’s a programme that is showing impact. At the beginning of the programme, every child takes a reading test and their scores are recorded. The same test is used some six months later and children are showing an increase in reading ability by an average of 35%. 

Increase in reading ability 
The Book Bus reading project has partnered with two local schools to support teachers with their literacy programmes. Every week Book Bus Reading Team visits the schools and hears the children read. 

 “The children love the Book Bus reading programme.  We work in small groups which means each child has access to books, takes turns in reading and then we always have some kind of activity afterwards to see what the children have understood." 

Why Malawi? 
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world and its education system has many challenges including average class sizes of 120 children per teacher with few resources to support teachers in their vital role. Books are rare and very expensive often costing more than one months wages. 

The Book Bus programme is currently piloting this, its first reading scheme, and it’s proving a big success. Choosing the right books is crucial to ensure the books are relevant and engaging to the children. Many of the books tell the stories of tales and fables from around the world. 

The programme not only helps the children to read, but the books open up new worlds to the children. They are learning about Aesop and ancient Greece through fables which really helps expand the children’s knowledge and encourages them to ask questions and explore further.

It's all about having an opportunity 

Joseph Chipanga is the Head teacher of Nansanga Primary school, one of the Book Bus partner schools. 
Head teacher Joseph Chipanga

“The impact has been simply incredible,“ he says. “This reading programme really supports the literacy work our teachers are doing. More and more children are now asking how they get on the reading programme. The children on the programme are absolutely becoming the highest performers in other subjects too. What’s important is these children are being given an opportunity - they are grasping it and we are now seeing the results. It’s looking very positive,” concludes Joseph. 

The Book Bus is keen to include more children on this reading programme and also introduce a 2nd phase to continue to provide reading support to the children that have successfully completed phase 1. 
Reading changes lives  

Get more children reading 

The Book Bus is a UK based charity and is entirely funded by the generosity of our donors. We want to expand this high-impact reading programme to: 

  • double the number of children on the programme 
  • employ an additional Reading Champion 
  • introduce a comprehensive reading scheme that will support children from early readers through to becoming confident readers. 

Can you help more children read and enjoy the powerful world of books?   Donate at 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Walking with Words

These boots were made for walking...

Book lover and Yorkshire hiker, Gail Richards is walking over 200kms across the West Yorkshire landscape to celebrate our 10th anniversary and to raise £10,000 to help continue our literacy work in Ecuador, Malawi and Zambia.

Gail was inspired by the children's stories
From Hebden Bridge through Huddersfield, Wakefield and Leeds to Ilkley and onto Howarth, the 20-day loop hike throughout April will take Gail through the rich and diverse literary heritage that West Yorkshire has to offer. Gail will visit local schools, museums, groups and bookshops along the route collecting stories, join in reading and storytelling with local groups and collect unique stories, poems and word snippets from passers by as she walks over the Yorkshires hills, through valleys and along canal paths.

Said Gail “I volunteered on the Book Bus in Zambia with my daughter back in 2012 and it was one of the most inspiring times of our lives. Every day the Book Bus travels to schools and villages with books for children that have none. We shared books and stories then brought the books alive through art and drama with lots of fun thrown in."

Gail hopped aboard Book Bus Charlie working in Zambia 
Continued Gail, “Whilst in Zambia I heard the stories of some children that walked for an hour to get to school every day and an hour back, often through harsh terrain. I was so inspired by their insatiable desire to learn that I was determined to raise awareness of struggles many children have getting to school and accessing books. I love walking and I love books too I thought I’d combine these and walk through the landscape that I love, West Yorkshire.  I’m aiming to raise £10,000 to celebrate 10 years of the Book Bus and to help keep the Book Buses on the road to continue their vital projects,” concluded Gail.

Follow Gail's route across West Yorkshire 
Gail's route across West Yorkshire