In the ten years since Leaving Microsoft to Change the World John and Room to Read have established 1,128 schools and 10,000 libraries in Nepal, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Sri Lanka, Laos, India, South Africa, Zambia and Bangledesh.
In addition, the organization has published 433 local language children's books, distributed 7.4 million books, and provided nearly 9,000 secondary scholarships for girls in those countries.
Room to Read’s programs have reached more than four million children as of 2010 and hopes to improve literacy for ten million children by 2015.
John is a genuine and engaging speaker. His focus is on raising the funding and letting those in the countries they participate in do what they do best. All the teachers, librarians, writers, illustrators, editors and publishers are local. They run programs in countries where the local governments and school boards are committed to sending children to school and keeping the schools and libraries operational.
I donated a copy of Dead Frog on the Porch to John for Room to Read. Hopefully some youngster in one of those countries will be reading the adventures of twin sisters Cyd and Jane as they save the world one frog at a time.
Here's a picture of John with my book and me with his book.
What you can't see in this picture is the incredible piece of amphibian bling I picked up recently in china town in New York!
Oh, did I forget to mention that Room to Read realized that it's great to get donations of books already published in English, but it's also important for children to learn to read in their mother tongue. So Room to Read has established a Local Language Publishing program to create culturally appropriate children's books in their own language that will spark their imaginations. In some countries Room to Read is the biggest publisher of children's books. As John says, they are the "largest children's book publisher you've never heard of."
Maybe it's our prairie roots that draw us to John's philosophy of GSD - get stuff done! Thirteen year old Samantha Terry of Taber, Alberta did the prairie equivalent of raising a barn for Room to Read. She raised more than $10,000 to build a school in Nepal! Way to go Samantha - you rock something awesome!
|Left to Right: Samantha's Mom, Leann Hackman-Carty, and Samantha Terry.|
Take a minute (or 20) tonight to read to yourself, your children, write a letter (or a blog post), buy a book for a friend, look up a word in your on-line dictionary and generally appreciate your literacy and its role in making your life what it is today.
Be proud to be a library nerd!