Going off-topic this week for a worthy cause. I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance reading copy of The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton. The ARC came along with some information on the real-life Kenya’s Mobile Library program, and I grew fascinated and did a little more research.
After I read all I could online, I resolved to donate some books to this extraordinary program. Then, completely coincidentally, I received an e-mail from Judy Merrill Larsen, author of All The Numbers, which included a plea from Masha to help with a book drive they’ve put together in which authors donate books. Here is the text of that e-mail:
I’m writing to ask you to be part of a book drive: Authors for African Literacy. My next novel is based on a real camel bookmobile that operates in isolated Northeastern Kenya near the unstable border with Somalia. I had the chance to visit last year and walk through the bush with the camels, books and librarians. It was totally inspiring to see the response in this semi-nomadic settlements to the books laid out under the acacia.
But, of course, they need more books. The bush is hard on them and sometimes in these semi-nomadic communities, the ones who have checked out the books move on before the library can return. I thought how wonderful it would be if 50 authors banded together to each send a box of about five well-loved books to the camel library. This area is also largely African Moslem, which creates another kind of bridge. Their first love is children’s books and their second love is fiction. The books could be collected from friends or your own collection (think lightly used, though), donated from your publisher, or bought from your favorite independent.
As part of the drive, I am setting up a page on my website of author donors. Let me know that you are collecting a box of books, and I will link to your website and/or blog, and include a j-peg of your latest book cover. Also, you will be part of any publicity generated from the drive — and we are going to be reaching out to blogs and mainstream media.
You can see pictures of the real bookmobile, as well as a short video, on my website. Thank you for considering participating in this; it would make me feel so good if we authors could work together to help this burgeoning library in this area in transition.
I’ve already used the Amazon Wish List option to donate five books and encourage anyone who can to participate. Please visit the Camel Bookdrive Blog to learn more, and let the Debs know if you’ve chosen to participate!