Children for Health is now working in partnership with the Hanging Libraries Initiative, making children’s books accessible and available to communities in the remotest and poorest parts of the world. A comprehensive library of digital books, which includes Children for Health’s Stories for Health in local languages and Hanging Library books in English can be downloaded, printed and stored in simple cloth hangers. The Hanging Library books have an A4 printing format, many with pen and ink illustrations and only coloured covers to make it cheap and easy to print with home or office printers. They are free to be translated into local languages.
The Hanging Library
The library consists of a cloth containing pockets for each book, usually two copies, which can be hung up in a classroom and taken down and put away at night. Typically a hanging library may consist of 32 pockets, or two cloths with 16 pockets each. It is designed to allow you to create your own, using easily accessible items such as a length of wood or bamboo rod and cloth.
Many of the books have been specially written with a health theme. Others are based on myths and legends or are information books. All can be downloaded from our site and are copyright-free. The books are graded and colour coded; blue first stage, green second stage, yellow third stage, red fourth stage. The stages are shown on the back of each book. At the end of each story there are follow up questions and activities.
“Reading is the Key to Learning” Hugh Hawes
There are many ways to set up and organise this simple project. It does not need a lot of money. Remember the aim is to get children reading fluently. All other areas of learning will benefit. If they read fluently, they will understand the textbooks better they will understand the questions on the exam paper and be able to answer better. Your school results will be better. Set up a working group of teachers or governors and work out what you need and how to get it. You could ask parents to donate cloth, or money for one book or approach local businesses, churches or Rotary clubs to sponsor a whole project.
If you are already a group sponsoring or working with a poorer school consider funding and helping set up a hanging library.
The Original Hanging Library Project
The original Hanging Library Project was set up in 2007 in a few schools in Uganda by Hugh Hawes (co-founder of Child-to-Child) and Sam Muwonge, who were colleagues in the Uganda Schools Inspectorate in Kampala in the 1960s.
Hugh and Sam knew that reading is the key to learning and is the most important skill taught in primary school. Children in Uganda (as in many other countries) need to read English fluently because their examinations are in English but in schools there is often a shortage of books to read other than textbooks.
There is a strong tradition of oral storytelling but there are few storybooks. Sam and Hugh were keen to build on the love of stories and build a convention of reading for pleasure which is so vital for fluency.