Finding time read during school breaks is a universal challenge for students around the globe, but in Cambodia, where children’s books are an unaffordable luxury for most families, it can be nearly impossible.
Recognizing the value of continuous access to books for students’ reading habits, our team in Cambodia embarked on a problem-solving mission late last year. What we needed was a low-cost, high-impact ways of ensuring that even children in the most remote Cambodian communities had the reading material they needed to practing their budding literacy skills during school breaks.
Constructed of sturdy material sewn to create folds as wide as storybooks, the pocket library seemed like a perfect solution. Large enough to contain a collection of 100 books, it can be hung nearly anywhere. During weekends and school breaks, the entire contraption is rolled up and transported from village to village, allowing children to check out the books one at a time.
“I used to wish for more books to read from at home besides my school textbook,” says Thavry, a fifth grade student from the Kampong Cham province. “Now, the books come to me!”
After piloting the pocket libraries in 2011, our team has now extended the program to several other districts. “Exposure to books at school alone is not enough,” says Chea Sum Vuthy, one of the field facilitators from our School Libraries program. “There must be other accessibility as well.”
In addition to promoting literacy, the pocket library initiative also teaches valuable leadership skills. Students take turns looking after the system and managing the check-out register with enthusiasm. For many, including Thavry, the visits from the pocket library provide the only exposure to reading material outside of school.
Learn more about our School Libraries.