Sometimes the simplest remark can be the most transforming. “Perhaps, sir, you will come back with books,” a Nepalese headmaster said to John Wood, a vacationing Microsoft employee, as they stood in a school library that had twenty books that “were all backpacker cast-offs.” Haunted by the thought of children who might never know the joy of reading, Wood returned home and spent a year gathering children’s books. He went back to the headmaster with 3,000 volumes and a new direction for his life. John Wood decided that bringing books to children who have none was his vocation and Room to Read was born, as he tells readers in Leaving Microsoft to Change the World.
Wood put together an organization with staff who share his dream and his passion, aided by a fundraising network of more than 3,000 people. The core programs of Room to Read are the Reading Room which has built 5,600 libraries, Local Language Publishing which publishes and distributes books written both in English and the local language, the School Room which works with local communities to build schools with 444 in use, the Room to Grow Girls’ Scholarship that enables 4,000 girls to complete their secondary education, and the Computer and Language Room which builds computer and language labs.
Found in India, Sri Lanka, Zambia, South Africa, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, Room to Read is vitalized by donations and volunteers, who have discovered how they can help by going to www.roomtoread.org. All share a common goal—to have built 10,000 libraries by 2010.
Scheduled half-day visits to a Room to Read site are welcome with advance arrangement.
One man, one dream, 3,000 books– one optimistic remark changed a life and consequently thousands of lives are being changed through the power of reading and the joy of literacy, all over the world.