Meet Stella: a lively 3rd grader from Balmoral, Zambia.
Born the sixth child of eight to parents Phales and Patrick, Stella was a happy baby who seemed no different from her siblings. At three years old, however, Stella had not yet begun to walk, and it became clear that her development was not following the familiar pattern.
Doctors assured Phales and Patrick that their daughter was healthy, despite her developmental challenges. Relieved by this news, they vowed to raise Stella in the same manner as they had her older brothers and sisters, including enrolling her in the local primary school.
Stella began first grade at Balmoral Basic two years ago at the age of nine. Because the school has a special education program, she is able to get the extra support she needs, as well as attend classes with her peers.
The school also has a large library that Stella visits often. She is particularly captivated by the colorful posters and "big books", which she shares with our team when they visit. “Lyi ni sapato yaba mami,” (this is my mother’s shoe) she says with a smile, pointing to a poster on the library wall.
"The posters and 'big books' enable her to indentify objects and relate them to her everyday life," says Room to Read Country Director for Zambia, Samantha Chuula. These supplementary reading materials are included in Room to Read libraries because they help to create a literate environment and encourage young kids to read. It's clear that they have helped foster a love of reading in Stella, despite her late start in school.
When asked about her favorite book, Stella proudly holds the “big book” version of Who Can Be a Friend. She's almost completely hidden by the book's massive cover, but peeking out from behind it, her face is all smiles.