Mountains of Books

Sabrina Urquhart's picture
Posted by Sabrina Urquhart on
Fri, 12/04/2015

Photos courtesy Bijay Gajmer of Save the Children.

Twelve-year-old Sampurna knew that Mount Everest, the highest mountain on earth, lies in his country, Nepal. But he learned a great deal more about his favorite mountain after he got his hands on a book about the tallest peak in the world. Save the Children, with support from the Bezos Family Foundation, introduced this book, and other non-fiction books, to schools and reading camps as part of its Literacy Boost program in the area.

"I picked the book at first because it was about a mountain in my own country, and but it was only after I finished reading it that I came to know that Sagarmatha (Everest) lies in the area bordering China," says Sampurna with delight.

Sampurna is a fifth-grader at Nepal Rastriya Lower Secondary School located in Bhagawanpur community area in Shivagadi village. Shivagadi is a small village in Kapilvastu district in western Nepal.In the evening, after school, Sampura’s sister, along with other girls in the community, practices dancing and Sampurna goes to the community center to watch. "I love watching dance but hesitate to dance myself," he says.

What Sampurna really loves to do is read books.  He spends three hours every Saturday morning at Save the Children’s reading camp. "I enjoy going to the reading camp. Other days in school, I have to focus on my course book but at the reading camp, I can read rhymes, poetry and stories and also get a chance to play interesting games that help me in reading," he says. “Sundar, the volunteer at the reading camp, starts each meeting with songs and games. He also tells stories and lends us new and interesting books,” he adds.

Recently, because of the Students Rebuild Literacy Challenge, Save the Children introduced non-fiction books to the students at schools and reading camps in the area through its Literacy Boost program. Children, who used to enjoy fictional stories and rhymes, enjoy the non-fiction books just as much. "My friends love reading these non-fiction books, along with stories. It would be great if we were given books every day to take home," he says with a smile.

"These books give us new information from around the world. Reading these books, I came to know about many things, like Africa, the hottest place in the world, and some famous people like Nelson Mandela," says Sampurna. "After reading all these books in my school and reading camp, I think I can participate in a quiz and get all the answers right," he adds.

Sampurna does not find all books equally interesting. "Though I love to read, some books with long sentences and few pictures do not attract me as much," he says. Because he attends both school and the reading camp regularly, Sampurna believes he has benefitted twice as much from the new books. 

The Students Rebuild Literacy Challenge, in partnership with Save the Children and Global Nomads Group, helped thousands of children in disadvantaged communities become successful life-long readers and learners. The Bezos Family Foundation, through Students Rebuild, has matched each bookmark you made and mailed in with $1—up to $300,000—for Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program in Mali, Nepal and Peru.