Book Aid International has revealed it provided 867,567 new books, all donated by UK publishers, to communities around the world over the course of last year.
The books were sent to thousands of schools, libraries, universities, hospitals and refugee camps in 19 countries. Just under half (431,000) were children’s books, hoped to ignite young readers’ excitement about reading and support their learning, while 88,000 teen and adult fiction books, and 75,000 medical texts, were also distributed as part of the total. The figure is down on 2019, when 1.2 million books were donated, reaching 26 countries.
In addition to providing books to libraries, schools and healthcare providers in 2020, the charity also continued supporting people who have been displaced, sending 5,520 books to support refugees in Greece, and 37,942 books (as well as 30 "Pioneer Book Boxes", each of which contains around 200 new books intended for use in classrooms) to people forced to flee violence in Cameroon.
Book Aid International also carried on its Solar Homework Club project in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp. The project provides secondary school students with revision guides alongside solar lamps, enabling them to study into the night even when electricity supply can be unreliable. In 2020, these books and lamps were particularly important to aid refugees' learning while schools were closed and the camp was locked down.
George Nandi from the organisation responsible for refugee education in the camp, Windle International Kenya, said: "When schools were closed learning was going on [in Kenya] through radio lessons, but our learners faced challenges in accessing devices such as radios, smartphones and internet bundles. So the teachers issued books provided by Book Aid International and also solar lamps. They helped the students to continue to study at home."
Doyel Maitra, group communications director at Hachette UK, spoke about its support of the charity in 2020: "We are proud to continue our partnership with Book Aid International to support its work with communities around the world who struggle to access books. Reading inspires, educates and entertains, and ultimately helps people to change their lives for the better. Last year, Hachette UK donated 43,644 books to Book Aid International and we hope to expand on this in 2021, so we can help to bring the joy and opportunities of books to even more people."
Book Aid International chief executive Alison Tweed expressed her gratitude to all who donated books during what was a "challenging" year, stating "2020 was an incredibly challenging year, and we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our supporters. We know that many publishers faced uncertainty over this last year, yet their book donations to our charity never wavered—and it was only through that support that we were able to keep providing books around the world. I would like to thank each and every organisation that chose to support our charity in 2020, and invite them to join us as we look to 2021 and beyond."