This was such a great picture that I had to ask Jeni if it had been posed. Most times when we take pictures of children reading our books they have these intense serious looks on their faces which don’t make for the most attractive photos. She assured me that this picture was genuine but she also said that the event almost resulted in a riot.
“We gave the books to the adults who were there from the community. More outspoken, leader types. They were then supposed to pass out the books. I estimate there were about 50 kids and 20 adults in all. When they told the kids to line up, they didn’t. They physically tried to put them in line and that didn’t work. We couldn’t just drive away because the kids were crowded around the car.”
Now, a part of me likes the idea of our books causing a riot! Hurray, kids love the books! But this isn’t the first time that Jeni has faced this situation. On International Book Day the books almost caused a riot in the stadium in Tete city, potentially endangering children. So, this isn’t really the way we should be going about handing out our books. The good news is that because of Jeni and our book distribution program in Tete we’re getting priceless first-hand experience in giving away our books.
What does seem to work better is handing out our books at school. Teachers are able to better control large crowds of kids. We’re also exploring the idea of community reading clubs, a practice that is being innovatively carried out by one of our favorite literacy organizations in South Africa, Nal’ibali.
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