Before leaving Tbilisi in September I stopped by Prospero’s Books. Thanks to all the people who donated funds for the school library I was able to make a sizable purchase of new books. Since Prospero’s has a large selection of English books I thought it would be the perfect place to go. I found a ton of picture books and beginning readers. Most of my students are still just beginning to learn English so these are the perfect books for them to start with. I also purchased picture encyclopedias and dictionaries, and other non-fiction books which had a lot of big pictures. Many kids here don’t have access to the Internet and I wanted them to still be able to learn about the world around them.
It was important to me that I not only provided the students with English books, but also some popular Georgian texts. So, when I returned home I made a trip to a bookstore in Kutaisi where I purchased Harry Potter, The Golden Compass, Twilight, other assorted fiction books and several science books. Overall I ended up spending one third of the money raised on books in Georgian. Again, I wanted my students to feel more connected to the world around them. Getting the chance to read books which are popular around the world helps to bridge the gap.
When I arrived at school with all the new books in tow I was met with a pleasant surprise, a package from Darien Book Aid. Darien Book Aid is a non-profit located in Connecticut which ships packages of books to needy libraries around the world, for free. I had requested a box from them early in the summer and was excited to go through the materials. It was much more than I imagined. They sent everything I had requested, picture books, beginning readers, and simple chapter books.
Altogether the library now has 116 new books. The librarian and I cleared off four shelves full of old Russian books to make room for the new materials. I cataloged them all by hand and set them out for the students. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Most of these kids have never even seen a picture book and no one ever reads to them. I now read a story at the beginning of my classes in grades 1-3. All of the third graders have checked out books and bring them to class every day eagerly anticipating me reading one of them. In my first grade class we’ve been reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and they laugh so hard throughout. One of the little boys spent most of the last class giggling while repeating “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” to himself while practicing writing the alphabet.
I can’t thank everyone who donated enough for their generous gift. You’ve given these kids a chance to live beyond the boundaries of their village and explore new worlds. Know that we’ve sowed the seed and these children are on the path to becoming life long fans of the written word! Love you guys, thanks for being so awesome.