Students collect books for Kenya

Jun 5, 2019

MARION — Students at Sippican Elementary School participated, and are still seeking funding for the African Library Project to send 1,000 books to the Ebenezer Primary School in Kisumu Kenya.

School librarian, Jessica Barrett said they chose to send books to Kenya because the country is part of the book Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan by John Bul Dau, which sixth graders read in class. The book tells the true story of people seeking refuge in Kenya to escape war and genocide.

Barrett said that students were excited to contribute to the project. “They came in gleefully with arms full of books to share,” she said.

Students collected so many books that not all of them could be shipped to Kenya. Barrett placed leftover books in boxes to sell to students at the end of the school year for 25 cents each. Other books were given away for summer reading.

Barrett drew inspiration from William Kamkwamba in deciding which books to send to Kenya. Kamkwamba learned how to generate electricity using a windmill by reading a book from a library run by volunteers in Malawi.

Barrett said she hopes that one day someone will be able to benefit from her books the same way Kamkwamba did when he was 14-years-old.

Sixth graders created PSAs to promote the African Library Project. In one of the short videos, students asked for donations for books of a fourth grade reading level and lower, adding that “all books count.”

Barrett said the majority of the “leg work” was done by the Kindness Crew, a group of sixth graders who teamed up to collect and organize book donations.

Donations for shipping costs were collected through The school has raised enough money to send their 1,000 book donation to Louisiana, but as of Wednesday June 5, an additional $134 is still needed to cover the international shipping cost to send the books from Louisiana to Kenya.