Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Quentin Blake's magical art inspiring Book Bus children to read

“It’s a real privilege to be associated with the Book Bus promoting literacy in Africa and South America,” declared world-renowned children’s illustrator and Book Bus Patron, Sir Quentin Blake in a recent interview with us at the Book Bus. 

Book Bus Patron Sir Quentin Blake 
“I think that the Book Bus does amazing work, introducing books to children in remote areas of the world where there are few or no books at all. Can you imagine that? Growing up in a world without books?” asked Quentin.

Our Book Bus mobile libraries are a central part of our literacy programme, sharing books and other literacy resources with children, schools and communities in remote areas of Ecuador, Malawi and Zambia. Quentin’s illustrations adorn each of our Book Buses ensuring they make a huge visual impact with children as they roll into schools, open areas in the African bush and along mountain roads in South America. 
The children welcome Book Bus Charlie 

"Can you imagine that? Growing up in a world without books?” 

 “One day the founder of the Book Bus and my then editor, Tom Maschler, asked if I could illustrate the very first Book Bus,” continued Quentin. “I had been creating illustrations for books for years but nothing as large as a bus. I was delighted to contribute to such a magnificent project.” 

“It was such a brilliant idea to decorate the Book Buses,” exclaimed Quentin. “I realised that many children probably didn’t have access to books so I wanted to create illustrations that would ignite their imagination, be fun and colourful and convey the pleasure of reading.”

Sir Quentin creating wonderful illustrations
And he certainly achieved that. Quentin created an array of spectacular colourful illustrations to decorate our 5 Book Buses, George, Matilda, Alfie, Tiger and Charlie named after Roald Dahl characters. Each piece conveys movement, gestures, atmosphere and a great sense of fun. It’s almost as if each character has their own story to tell. 

Quentin’s illustrations include a book cart packed full of children engrossed in reading, a young child lost in the adventure of their book as they hitch a ride on an elephant and a young girl reading a story with an inquisitive lion sitting behind her (is he listening to her story or eyeing up his lunch the children ask when they study the illustrations on the side of their Book Bus!).
As we rolled out our additional literacy programme in Ecuador, Quentin created new illustrations including a giant tortoise and an Alpaca.   

Sir Quentin's illustrations spark imaginations
Quentin continued: “No one starts their lives being able to read, but very quickly as children we make sense of the world around us by looking at shapes and colours.”

“If you can get children engaged first in illustrations, their curiosity will lead them to then enquire about the words. Reading comes very soon after this.”

“What struck me about the with the Book Bus and its supporters,” added Quentin “is that they are providing books to children to help them develop essential literacy skills. They are sowing an extraordinary crop that is going to have a harvest that will go on and on for these children for the rest of their lives. It's providing much more than just literacy - it’s opening a door to the future in an incredible way.”
"The Book Bus is providing much more than just literacy - it’s opening a door to the future in an incredible way.”

“Once you spark curiosity – well that’s like a machine that creates its own energy and if you can get books to these children, sit with them, talk to them, read with them and develop that enthusiasm for reading, then you really don’t know what wonders that will lead to in the future,” Quentin added.

Special illustrations for the readers of Ecuador
“I’m so proud of the work the Book Bus does and I’m deeply touched to be involved with this wonderful project.  It’s been around for more than 10 years now and I have no doubt it will be around for many more years. The effects of the Book Bus does, and will last much longer and go much, much further that even we can imagine” Quentin concluded.

In 2016 Sir Quentin launched our latest and boldest literacy project I am a Reader. We want to get 10,000 children in Malawi and Zambia reading by 2020. If you believe that all children should have an opportunity to learn how to read, join our campaign. 

Sunday, 26 February 2017

With a little help from our friends...

There are many wheels that keep the Book Bus community chugging along with delivering inspiring books for the 1000s of children on our literacy projects in Zambia and Malawi.  Not least of these are our friends at the National Police Aid Convoys (NPAC), the generous organisation that help us transport shipments of books over to Zambia every year.
NPAC deliver aid globally

The volunteer organisation NPAC was started by a group of serving police officers back in 1993, who decided to use their community influence and negotiating skills to deliver humanitarian aid to places that other NGOs couldn’t reach. These days, the hard-working group continue to provide emergency and development aid all over the world—including helping to  transport around  20- 30 containers of books to our Book Bus communities in Zambia each year. The organisation was recently awarded the Points of Light Award by PM Theresa May for their outstanding volunteer work.

We are honoured and delighted to be partners with the NPAC, and David Scott, the Head of the organisation, reiterates the importance of our partnership.

“People trust the police,” he says jokingly, though the sentiment rings true. “The influence of the NPAC means we can form good relationships in the community and get aid to where it is needed.” 

He goes on to commend the importance of the Book Bus. “Books are rare in Zambia. In fact they are like gold!” David says. 

The 9-tonne book shipment bound for  Zambia 
For the past 2 years the Book Bus has been working with NPAC transporting much needed books to our literacy projects in Livingstone, Kitwe and Mfuwe in Zambia. Our latest shipment left the UK in February  and is due to arrive in Zambia in the Spring. 

The 9-tonne shipment will deliver 1000s of much needed books to schools, libraries and direct into the hands of our book-loving children. Many people are involved in this epic task. Being able to read will ensure children get more out of their education, and helps them reach their full potential. It's difficult to learn how to read without access to books and that's where these much needed books are of great value. 
Inspiring books delivered for children to read 

With the help of the NPAC, the Book Bus looks forward to continuing to bring the joy of reading to communities in Zambia, powered by the hearts and hands of the many volunteers who contribute to the work of the NPAC. The Book Bus is very grateful to David and his team at NPAC for the work they're doing in helping change children's lives one book at a time...