Tag Archives: read global

The power of books and reading

2013-09-29-Bhutan1aI love libraries. I use them all the time.  A young friend last week saw the library book in my hand and kind of sniffed at it, as if it were weird.

But he hasn’t been to a place where books are rare.  He can buy books whenever he wants on his iPad.  And even if you’re like him, I hope you’ll consider the power of libraries, too.

Like a supermarket, a community’s library tells you a lot about a place.  One of the most amazing experiences I’ve had was visiting a READ Global library in Ura, Bhutan–the first library built outside the nation’s capital city, 11 hours from it, in fact.  Kids in this beautiful farming village drank up the library from the moment the doors of the creaky converted farmhouse opened.  One boy told me proudly that he had a small stack of books of his own. They all couldn’t wait to show me their favorite books.

Somehow my infectiousness for the place trickled over to a little girl named Claire, who subsequently helped raise enough money to build another library there.

Here’s the story about her wonderful feat, from adventurer and explorer Richard Bangs on the Huffington Post.

You don’t need to raise enough money to build an entire library.  And the library you support doesn’t have to be half a world away.  But I share this in the hopes you’ll be inspired, like Claire was, to share the power of books and reading.

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From La Jolla to Bhutan and back again: Shangri-La, READGlobal and the importance of libraries

I just got back from a couple days in Shangri-La.  Not that one.  This one is in La Jolla, California, a pretty gorgeous place, made even more amazing by members of the community of La Jolla Country Day School.

A series of bizarre and seemingly random events (sparked by our mutual fascination of Bhutan and our love of reading) led us together.  Now, we’re all working to raise money to build a library in the Kingdom, because libraries are sorely needed–and we all agree that they’re a fundamental part of a great community.

For me it was doubly exciting: they chose Radio Shangri-La as a community read to get everyone in a “Bhutan state of mind.”  (My quotes, not theirs!)  I got to talk with parents, kids of all ages, and spend time with some super-committed educators who make you think: There is hope for the future.  And: Boy do I wish I could go to school here.  (Wish everyone could!)

Some community service team members at LJCDS



I share this because

A. I’d love to do this with your group, too.  So let’s cook something up.  RSL is a tool to inspire discussion about immigration, media impact, globalization, secluded Kingdoms, and even midlife malaise.  All with the bigger message: It’s not about you.  It’s about what you can do to help others.

B. Don’t forget READ Bhutan.

C. How cool it is that an affluent school places such a value on community service–to teach their kids the importance of the greater world beyond their own, and what they can do to participate in making it better.

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Click to support @READGlobal and help build libraries in #Bhutan

Kids at the READGlobal Library in Ura, Bhutan


Announcing: A great promotion from our friends at Books for Better Living.

Click to like their Facebook page and Random House will give a dollar to READGlobal.  READ is the nonprofit for which I and a number of friends have been working to raise money; it’s a great organization that builds libraries in the Himalayas and most recently in Bhutan.   Please spread the word!

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For some kids, a book is a luxury. Help us build a library in Bhutan.

This week we had a dear visitor here in LA from Mongar, Bhutan, and it renewed my resolve to help raise money to build a library in that beautiful part of the country. Look at these gorgeous kids I met there this fall:

They live in spectacular natural splendor that foreigners spend thousands of dollars to visit, but they don’t have access to much–particularly in the way of educational materials. Pencils are hard to come by, much less books.

We’ve identified an empty building in Mongar town that can be home to a library and community center. The nonprofit group READGlobal will help build out the interior, stock the shelves and train local people to run it and sustain it…if we can just raise a significant portion of the start-up funds.

Help, please? Even $25 makes a difference, and right now an anonymous donor is matching whatever you give, dollar for dollar. This link takes you to our online fund drive page. Or you can send a check directly to READGlobal in San Francisco: PO Box 29286 San Francisco, CA 94129

And here’s a story I did for The World about the first READ library in Bhutan, only the second lending library in the entire country!

Stay tuned for a different message on how you bring books to Bhutan if you’re taking a trip there. And feel free to forward this one, please.

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READGlobal, and libraries in Bhutan

On bookstobhutan.com, we’re working to raise money to help build a library in Bhutan. Right now, there are only two lending libraries in the whole country. Here’s a story from Kuensel about the first one the organization we support, READGlobal, opened just a year ago. It’s in the village of Ura:

Bhutan’s first community library has so far proved to be an unqualified success


Ura’s Sershong Pezoekhang 28 May, 2011 – It’s time for school and six-year-old Karma Namgay, a class II student of Ura middle secondary school (UMSS), prepares his bag, while mother packs the lunch box.

“Ama, I don’t want to take lunch,” the boy tells his mother, who is not surprised by his reluctance.

This is because Karma wants to use the one-hour lunch break at school to visit the library set up by READ (rural education and development) Bhutan, located a few minutes away from the school, rather than spend that time eating lunch.

The library has more than 2,500 books, from elementary readers, folk tales, novels, guidebooks for various subjects taught in the schools to religious texts, and is also equipped with computers.

What draws Karma to the library are the computers. “I want to learn to use the computer and, every time I get a chance, I play games; and, when I don’t get to play with the computer, I read the books, those with lots of pictures,” the little boy said.

Like him, most of the students of UMSS prefer spending their free time in the library. “Sometimes it’s difficult to get the students to go back to their classes,” the library in-charge, Tshering Choden, said.

“I’m happy that the purpose is served well,” the director of READ Bhutan chapter, Thinley Choden, said. READ’s first community library in Bhutan, Ura’s Sershong Pezoekhang, celebrated its first anniversary yesterday, since it was established in May last year.

The library, which is being run and managed by the community, is doing well so far. To support it financially, READ has given a tractor to a group of farmers, who are required to deposit Nu 15,500 monthly from their proceeds to the account of the community library.

“The group has deposited Nu 62,000 in the past four months, from which over Nu 5,000 was used to sponsor a week-long basic computer training for some youth of the community, the chairperson of the library management committee, Jamyang, said.

School dropouts and students waiting for admission to colleges are also taking good interest in reading books in the library, according to the library in-charge. Other youth of the community also use the library.

The library, in collaboration with the Loden Foundation nursery, located on the ground floor of the same building, carries out story telling and reading sessions, screening of nursery rhymes for nursery kids, and public screenings of religious movies every week.

“This library is a big gift for the community,” the chairperson of the community library said.

The READ Bhutan chapter opened in late 2008 and is a part of READ global, a non-profit organisation that seeks to help, establish community centres in the Asian region, and has chapters introduced in Nepal, India and Bhutan.

By Samten Yeshi

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