A book for a book

Room to Read Club hosts first ever Read-a-thon



Living in a privileged world, we find ourselves taking the simplest things, such as having access to a library or a computer, for granted. This is what inspired Lisa (11) to open the minds of students at our school, and recognize that illiteracy is still prevalent in today’s world. “At Sacred Heart, we talk a lot about girls’ education, but we don’t spend enough time talking about the importance of education. There are still so many places in the world where the majority of the citizens cannot read or write,” said Lisa (11).

Before starting the Room to Read Club, Lisa (11) had the opportunity to attend the annual GIN (Global Issues Network) conference held in Singapore in 2012, where she was touched by the story of Room to Read founder John Wood, who left Microsoft to start this organization. Wood now provides children in over 10 different countries access to libraries, and to books in their native languages.

Also determined to raise awareness of the scale of illiteracy in the world, Lisa (11) started the Room to Read Club in 9th grade. Within three years, the Room to Read club has been able to organize various events such as the letter exchange with the Shree Manakamana Primary School in Pharping, Nepal, and the “Color Run” fundraiser.

This year, however, Lisa (11) and her club, wanted to change the aim of the club and focus more on direct action. Lisa(11) discovered that for every 100 yen that is donated to the Room to Read organisation, a new book is published in a different language. This inspired Lisa to start a “parallel library” for middle school. For each book a student reads, the club will collect money to donate to the Room to Read organisation, which will use the money to build a library for other children in less economically developed countries around the world.

The “parallel library” project expanded into a “readathon”, in which each student finds sponsors, who will donate money for every book the student has read. To motivate middle school students, the club decided to make the “readathon” a competition. At the end of the competition, the Room to Read club members will collect the sponsor sheet from the students and tally the number of books the grade read as a whole. The competition will continue until May 27, and the middle school students are reading away in hopes of winning a free dress day for their grade.

However, Lisa (11) wants to take this idea even further. The Room to Read Club hopes that they can share the “readathon project” on the Room to Read website so that other Room to Read clubs can be inspired. This way, other students, and other schools, could use this idea to get their students reading, while at the same time, raising money to donate to help build libraries and publish more books.

“It sounds crazy, but I think what we started at our school, could possibly go global, and we could really make a huge change in the world by coming closer and closer to ending illiteracy,” says Lisa (11).