I sent a book to Africa today in a very unusual way. Let me back up a little.
A few days ago, a friend told me about a line of T-shirts emblazoned with out-of-print classic book covers.
I mean, classic novels + T-shirts = I’m in.
So I checked out their website (www.outofprintclothing.com) and found out that their shirts feature some of my favourite books — from The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird to The Catcher in the Rye.
And also that for each shirt sold, one book is donated to an African community in need through their partner Books For Africa.
According to their site, “Since 1988, Books for Africa has shipped over 22 million high-quality text and library books to children and adults in 45 African countries… to rural school libraries, orphanages, adult literacy programs, and community resource centers … And Outofprintclothing.com has already sponsored an entire BFA shipment of books to Tanzania, and they are well on their way to sending a second container.”
For a good indicator of how appreciated these books are, here’s a letter from a Peace Corps volunteer at an elementary hostel school in a tiny rural village in Namibia:
“Though there are no chairs or tables in our library, and only a ragged carpet on a cement floor, the children line up outside, waiting anxiously for me to open every afternoon, excited to look through and read, yet again, the same book they read yesterday.
“The children spend long afternoons flipping mesmerized through picture books, tracing words with their fingers, asking for definitions or explanations. The library has become a place that not only creates a love of reading, but offers and inspires an interest in English, the national language of this still newly independent nation, and an awareness of a world outside the hostel walls.
“It is therefore on behalf of all the children at the school that I request a donation of books for our library.”
P.S. A little song for ya. Enjoy!