A few weeks ago I went into my local library to see their new books in circulation. I came across the book, Creating Room To Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy. It is by John Wood, who left a lucrative job with Microsoft years ago to follow his passion. A passion many would think crazy since he was making great money at Microsoft. His dream and passion was to build school libraries around the world in Third World nations. His aim was to promote reading and education.
Since I love reading I thought a story of someone encouraging literacy and reading around the globe would be a great read. I was not disappointed. Through the book I saw how one person who had personally been enriched in his life through reading saw the power of reading. His underlying goal with starting Room To Read was to have children everywhere in the world to have access to books in their own language. His resulting hope was to increase education in poor areas which would result in lowering poverty rates. Literacy would unleash in children to dream big dreams for their futures.
One emphasis that came across through the book was the emphasis to help especially young girls in countries where they are short changed in the educational process. Some of the countries mentioned in the book where libraries and also schools were built are: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Zambia, and many more. Part of the dream that developed too was when John realized that teaching these young children in English was helpful, but the children also wanted books in their own language. What they found was that many of the countries did not have children books in the various languages. So a whole new publishing arm of his dream came to pass to create new books in the various languages for the children. This opened up opportunities for authors in the various countries as well. It was like seeing Dr. Jim Bright’s Chaos Theory of Careers in action.
Each chapter of the book is an exciting journey to see the excitement of children around the globe being able to read books. Schools gaining libraries with actual books in them when before there were just empty shelves. Whole villages would come out and celebrate the new libraries that they had a part in building. As part of the library development was built into the program, by having local ownership by either sweat equity involved in the building process, or paying a portion of the building process. It is an excitement that needs to keep pace in our country as well if we want to keep dreams, creativity, and mental growth alive in our young people. Here is the US the emphasis on a steady diet of videos is turning our young people into passive non-thinking zombies. So book reading needs to be an important part of education here in the US as well.
I was glad John Wood shared that the passion for his endeavor to build libraries around the globe came out of his personal upbringing. He shares how his parents brought him up to appreciate education. He also gained an early love for reading that stayed with him over the years from his mother. He shares in the book a quote from his grandmother that shows that the importance of reading went back several generations, “If you have a good book in your hands, you will never be lonely.” (page 29). Obviously his early love for reading was the impetus behind a dream that has helped build thousands of school libraries in poor communities around the world.
John Wood could have stayed in the comfort and prosperity of his job at Microsoft. Instead he took the risk to leave it behind for a passionate dream of creating hope and dreams in the lives of young children around the world. His dream is a positive change agent in improving young lives through the importance of reading and books in the lives of children. Only time will tell how this affects each of the children’s futures.
Click here – John Wood Room To Read-- to listen to a short Youtube video by John Wood about his organization.
Reflection – Why is reading important to you? How can you help promote reading in our country and around the world? Here is the website for Room to read. Check it out and see the great work they are doing around the world: www.roomtoread.org