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Friday, February 22, 2013

Room to Read

A wonderful story of a entrepreneur's urge to give books to the world

From the Financial Times

John Wood was a senior sales manager at Microsoft. Then, during a sabbatical, he was talking with a teacher in a Nepalese village. The teacher told him that all the school library had on its shelves were a few Danielle Steel novels and a dogeared Lonely Planet guide to Mongolia, all left by backpackers.

Wood's heart was touched. Remembering the pact he had made with the librarian in his hometown in Pennsylvania, to be able to borrow more books each week than his quota, he wanted to do something about those Nepalese kids.

 He launched an appeal to friends for book donations that would transform his life as well as those of local people and soon others across Asia and Africa.

The power and effectiveness of his simple message led to the creation of a charity that rapidly expanded its remit and geographical spread. Since 1999, Room to Read has established nearly 15,000 libraries, built 1,500 schools, distributed 12m books, published more than 700 titles in local languages, supported 20,000 girls in education and benefited an estimated 8m children in 10 countries.

And now he has written an inspiring book about it.

Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy, By John Wood (Viking, RRP£13.99, $27.95)

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