Why send books from the UK to Zambia?

On World Book Day, The Book Bus launched a campaign to send 10,000 quality books from the UK to Zambia. In this blog, David Gordon, CEO of The Book Bus, discusses the benefits of shipping quality books from the UK to Zambia.

2022 update: Following our successful campaign in 2021, The Book Bus launched a campaign to send a further 10,000 books to children in Zambia. You can donate to our 2022 JustGiving campaign here. The JustGiving links in this post have been amended to point to the 2022 campaign.
Update: On April 15th 2021, The Book Bus hit our goal of £1,500 on JustGiving. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed! Your kind donations will support our goal of sending books for over 3,200 children in Kitwe. If you would like to support The Book Bus, you can continue to do so via our Donate page.

The Book Bus Foundation was established in 2006 as a charity in the UK to improve the lives of children in Zambia by improving their levels of literacy. The charity was founded on the principle that quality books should be at the heart of every child’s learning. The core purpose of The Book Bus is to connect children, their parents, and their teachers, to books and resources that will provide enjoyment, inspire curiosity, and foster lifelong learning.

Finding quality books for children in Zambia

The Book Bus I Am a Reader
The Book Bus helps fill libraries and reading corners in Zambia with quality books, sharing a love of reading with over 6,000 learners in Kitwe.

This year our project team in Zambia are sourcing books for the 40 schools that we currently support in the city of Kitwe. Their project is providing over 6,000 learners with access to quality books that will improve their reading levels in both local language and in English.

The team choose a wide selection of books, both nationally and internationally, that teachers can use to improve reading levels and reinforce learning within the school curriculum. The Zambian team are experts in local children’s literature, and we have copies of every children’s book published in Zambia and many more from other African countries including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

However, the content and quality of these books varies considerably, and availability is unreliable within Zambia. For example, two years ago we had to order a reprint of 5,000 copies from a successful series of Zambian class readers that had not been available to aspiring learners for some time.

Quality books only: Sourcing and shipping books from the UK

To meet the need for quality books in Zambia, The Book Bus in the UK collects kind donations from schools and individuals. We accept and filters these books to ensure that only books with suitable content and of good quality are loaded for shipping to Africa. However, we will not waste any book worth reading. Those that we don’t select are donated to a charity that provides literacy support to schools in the UK.

The Book Bus Sends Quality Books to Zambia
Quality books are collected and filtered by Book Bus teams in the UK and Zambia. Books like these help provide reading opportunities and foster a love of reading, with books available to aspiring learners in both English and Bemba.

Many of the books we send to Zambia are not available in-country yet are absolute classics in terms of content for children learning to read, especially for those making the transition from local language to English. We feel that it’s books like these that truly boost the children’s interest in reading.

We recognise the ethical, financial and ecological costs of sending books overseas in this fashion. However, with the availability of books for children in Zambia remaining extremely limited, we consider these costs are justified, considering the huge benefit that the books provide.

You can help The Book Bus send 10,000 books to Zambia by 2022. 

David Gordon is CEO of The Book Bus. Since 2007, he has supported the charity’s in spreading literacy and the joy of reading to children around the world.