We have discussed where clothes you donate might end up, but what about the BOOKS you toss into the “Donation” bin?
Me, I only had a hazy idea of how my old tomes might be used. Did they find a second life as firewood? Toilet paper? Food storage? Sometimes I worried about my cast-off literature’s fate.
Listen to how this Reading Club program works, because it’s a format that could conceivably be replicated in any youth center from Boston to Bolivia… and beyond!
1. Organizing a Central Library: Instead of just giving the donated books away to individual students, never to be seen again, YCC meticulously organizes all its literary donations on handmade shelves in one central “YCC Library.”
Hard-working Ghanaian YCC volunteers carefully track each book that is checked out and returned.
If you haven’t been to West Africa, it’s hard to realize how important this grass-roots library is.
Why? Because Ghana, though it strongly believes in the power of education, has painfully few libraries.
And thus just like this, YCC has changed the face of its town for the better.
2. A systematic “Reading Club” structure for school groups. YCC has developed strong ties with 5 different local schools. Few schools in Ghana have resources for books beyond government-issued academic texts, so they are thrilled at YCC’s offer to have up to 20 students check out one book each, per week from the YCC Library.
YCC then uses Ghanaian and international volunteer teachers (like me!) to lead discussions of the books twice per week.
On top of this adult-led literature time, Reading Club students are expected to meet on their own time outside of school at YCC classes to further analyze the books… and they do!
3. An giant incentive to really read. YCC’s Director, John, knows that sometimes people need a concrete reason to do something, even something as important as reading and discussing books.
Therefore, he and the YCC staff devised the brilliant Grand Quiz of Reading: an annual competition among all the 200 or so YCC Reading Club members in Sogakope, Ghana to see which students could answer the most questions about the library’s literature! Do read the article if have a chance, because it was one of the most remarkable educational demonstrations I have ever seen… and it had a dancing intermission! Ever since the first Grand Quiz, Volta Region schools have been scrambling to join the Reading Club program.
And thus, let this article leave you with the following thought: there are remarkable people in this world who are working extremely hard, for very little (or no) money, in order to boost the education and opportunities for hundreds of youth in their small town.
And know this: if any of the books you’ve donated had the luck to be matched with a program as great as the YCC of Ghana Reading Clubs, and if books had the magic power to smile… your books would be grinning from spine to corner right now!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!