Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Chronicles of a village librarian - Choices


To be a librarian is not to be neutral, or passive, or waiting for a question. It is to be a radical positive change agent within your community. —R. David Lankes

Often people will make the assumption that what we do is easy. It is not. I only have a passion, a drive to change my community, great people backing me up and luckily the resources in form of books. Not many people get the resources. Taking you back to 10 years ago... we had been one in year in operation as INSPIRE a name chosen after like 3 months of arguments. I had been laughed at when i had said that i wanted to do this by some of the people closest to me and it hurt. Others had wanted to know how this infact was a real job and where would i even get money from. The truth is, i had no idea and those questions made me cry more often than not in the dead of the night on my pillow. Just like any other thing one does when you love something, you give alot for it. In the years since i have paid the ultimate price, but this is a story for another day. 

So here i was ... a tea girl (i am not hating on the job but its something id rather not do again) in the middle of  books and my library as a side hustle on the weekends, while volunteering for story telling and teaching of English in a school near my work location religiously every lunch time for an year. Every morning the thought of serving tea again had me wanting to throw myself infront of a truck. I wanted to use my brain surely or do something bigger and it was eating at my inside. I simply could not take it anymore but i did not know what to do except for the little light that reminded me i had 50 books in my bag (mobile library) to give to deserving kids to read. Something had to give (SCREAMS in frustration). By this time our fledgling organization had managed by some divine intervention to get a small contract and we had one child through a blessed sponsor in highschool from the school i was teaching english and practicing librarian skills on (books do indeed take you places ) and finally that same sponsor had decided i needed to be in university, something i had only ever dreamed of (honestly i never thought it would happen to me at all)- but the frustration of serving tea was evident. Aiiiiii  i well learned girl how do i even...๐Ÿ˜ฉ

So with all this happening i made a decision. One morning bright and early i woke up , did n not even carry my bag and went to my workplace and quit. I still remember my immidiate boss asking me , "are you okay? is somebody forcing you to do this? are you high on something? Can i give you an off you go think about it and come back sober? Emily , what are you going to do about money? does this your organization even make money? Ala! (i should mention that that was my fourth year as a casual labourer and all my friends had been employed except me!) Well lets be honest here... my stomach was in knots and i had no clue if i was depressed or crazy but i had to do something . I still quit and walked out with my head held up high and thankful that i did not cry infront of the CCTV cameras.

By this time though our donors- AFK  had given us more boxes and therefore i had more books. More books meant i could do something. Right? But what to do ? The question of questions. The first thing i did now that i had alot of time on my hands was to arrange and re arrange my tiny library now with two full shelves over and over again, pray and look at who i know who would like to borrow books from me. I can assure you there was a point i think i was having withdrawal symptoms of not going to work. Eish.... had i done the right thing? 

The kids do not know this but every evening now that they would turn up to borrow a book , to read for a few minutes , to play a game , cemented the idea that i was doing the right thing. They gave me the strength to go on. They were not the only one. I had a father figure in Wayne Silver (will address him in
a bit). Wayne has been a great source of encouragement and comfort. He has been there when it got hard and supported this dream like a father would. To this day i have not dissapointed. Maybe he may comment on that 

Something did actually happen but we shall address that next.

I would like my readers to know, that following your dreams is usually more easier said than done. You have to have the heart for it. You cannot and should not quit because the truth is it can be hard . REAL HARD sometimes. In the words of Mary K Ash.." "When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you and be a loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. Refuse to throw in the towel. Go that extra mile that failures refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure."

I have reached my obstacles way too many times. I wount say that there is a proven formula for overcoming them because inspite of how many times i have read books about it , listened to motivational speakers , this is a battle i win daily. It has no plans that tommorrow this will happen. You simply wake up and go for it. Do i regret it, absolutely not. The kind of change stories i have seen in the years since i started INSPIRE will make me do this over and over again. Remember , Courage is facing fear. Face yours. How do you want to change your world?

The librarian@INSPIRE




Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Chronicles of a village librarian - the start


Librarians have the power to transform not only individual lives, but entire communities.- David Lankes

Every story has a beginning. It had never occured to me that i was going to be a librarian. No! infact my childhood profile of dreams had moved from being a doctor, a teacher to adventurer to a captain in the army, which, looking back at it now had a component in service to humanity. I would never have been a librarian if it was not for the fact tha i had a hard time reading and i met Nancy Drew.

There is that one book that changes your life. That book that takes your life on a different course. By then i was almost in grade six (standard six) in a school run by missionaries and without the ability to spell the word run. The embarrasment. But a little detective girl in the pages of a book and my mother's determination changed all that.

Fast forward to about 11years ago. I was frustrated from working in a job that really did not require me to use my brain at all- serving tea . However i was surrounded by books. Books of all kinds. But they were mainly boring because i am not an academician and i love the thrill of a great story. I could only find very few books in the way of entertainment. So i decided to start my own. Mine took up a whole wall which in those days was a big investment in a bedroom on its own which meant the kids had to share. Yes i had two by the time i started to run a community library and my oldest was already an avid reader. I had all sorts of books..bought and collected. When i say collected, the shape some of those books were in, needed divine intervention. But did i The fact that it was a book and it was mine was enough. My library - home library was my peace. My place to be. Then one day of days , we had a break in. The kind the thug is a child . It got me thinking , since he had un-intentionally targeted my LIBRARY , what if we could make a library for the community kids to come to? What difference would it make if the had easy access to knowledge and information?

And it is on that day i think the ultimate decision inside my heart was made. And my journey began. No its not easy to invite kids to come to your house and you have no exit (meaning backdoor and you are located in a "plot"). They were mainly made up of ghetto kids. The rough kind. the ones you are worried that perhaps there will be robbery with no violence. The truth is, i was scared of them and of dreaming because i did not know where this would take me. I was scared for the first few days until i discovered they had some of the most beautiful hearts there can be in a human being . The kids were wonderful and mostly they appeared which is usually not easy because this is a library in a home and parents are jittery about this things. This first kids were the foundation stones. The ones we look back on and know we have and had something good going on here. The ones you meet on the road in town and they stop you and ask, .."do you remember me?" i used to come to your library in Pembe Tatu. My heart will at this time smile all on its own and i will think to myself ..." God this is wonderful!'. Then they will continue by saying,..." do you know i still read?" and i will respond with an almost hug of greatfulness...." and i still run the library@INSPIRE"

But i know YOU there have a question that you probably want to know about before we go on with stories of all kinds...., how did we get so many books?.. Well...... as I had mentioned earlier, I started by having a collection all my own about 300 books (which is impressive). You would probably have called my library weird because most of the  books were falling apart and had maybe chapters missing , but they served the purpose and they filled one entire shelf . Then me and my friend Flo, sat down and decided there must be good people out there willing to donate books to a good cause. Call it a brilliant idea because that is what it was.So i sat down and googled all known book organizations in the world. and sent emails . Thousands of them with alot of rejections. The kind that tell you " we are sorry we cant at this time. Gosh that is almost a slap in the face because you ask yourself hard questions but mostly do this guys know what i am all about or are they judging me by lack of a cover

Then AFK happened. I would have missed it entirely you know. I found this organization as a footnote in someone elses website. Right there at the bottom in the corner . Sitting , waiting. I clicked to their site and it interested me. Right down to the email of the president . With my heart in one hand and not caring if i got to them or not , i wrote a "desparate plea" . Would you please give me some books. I think i wanted to cry. I wanted to give up. I guess i must have thought business is for those that know how to write in good english. I dont , i can only write like myself. And so i did. I dont know how to explain that feeling when someone replies and its not a no. It had been many months later, many mornings of looking at my email to see if there would be any reply from anybody and many many days of asking myself if i was indeed doing the right thing. Then email, and not just an email. An email that said..."we are impressed and will give you 7 cartons" ah! You should have seen the joy on my face. The excitement with which i found florence and told her the good news. The way i run home to tell my family that we were going to get books. Books from America. How in the world does a girl get so lucky. I slept and dreamnt new books

We received those 7 cartons with alot of jubilation. We stared at the books, we smelled them, we opened them. No one wanted to be passed by. The other kids came in. We oohed and ahhed. Arranged
them and rearranged them. I have never in all my life seen books read so fast and repeatd again and again. By this time the number of children that were attending our  "library " was rising to above 20.With few books , me working and only the weekends available , this was indeed an adventure. A full time one 

I was still struggling with the question of ... can i quit my job and do this full time?Where would i even begin? At this time many years ago, i did not know what i was getting myself into. Was i ready? No. Was i a "qualified librarian" ..No but i had the passion to do what i do. I had no clue as to what i was doing except kids enjoyed reading and reading can and has continuously made a difference. And i enjoyed having them come to my place.

The librarian@Inspire




Monday, 16 November 2020


“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn
As a parent or teacher, you may be confused. You want your child to become a good reader but dont know what to do to help them. Occassionaly we are bombarded with news about how children cannot read and you fear that your own children too, may struggle or perhaps they are even struggling  but you are afraid to interfere because you are not quite sure what to do and you have been told that teaching reading is a teachers' job in the school. But we all know that this is not true.

It is important to note that reading is fundamental to success in life. Its that simple. Reading opens the door to virtually all other learing. You have to be able to read to learn Mathematics, science, cre and everything else. Basically you have to be able to read to succeed. Poor literacy leads to unemployment, poverty and crime.  Please note that reading is not an isolated subject but a critical means to an end. That end is a productive, enriched life in which your child can master complex information, pursue passions, and make a decent living. Reading opens the world of the mind to your child and greatly increases her llife prospects. there is no doubt about it, the biggest gift you can give your child is a love of reading. 

If children dont understand what they read , they are not really reading. if they dont unlock meaning as they read , the words become a boring babble and they will never read well or enjoy reading .So how is meaning unlocked? How do we ensure our chilren learn to read?

We start by understanding that good readers use the following 7 keys to unlock meaning.

1. Create mental images : Good readers create a wide range of visual, auditory and other sensory images as they read and they become emotionally involved with what they read. (do you ask your children to tell you about the pictures they see?

2. Use background knowledge: Good readers use their relevant prior knowledge before, during and after reading to enhance their understading of what they are reading. (do your children have enough back ground knowledge?)

3. Ask questions: Good readers generate questions before, during and after reading to clarify meaning, make predictions and focus their attention on what is important. (please do not stop your children from asking questions)

4. Make inferences: Good readers use their prior knowledge and information from what they read to make predictions , seek answers to questions, draw conclusions, and create interpretations that deepen their understanding of text.

5. Determine the most important ideas or themes: Good readers identify key ideas or themes as they read, and they can distinguish between important and unimportant information.

6. Synthesize information: Good readers track their thinking as it evolves during reading, to get the overall meaning

7. Use "fix-up" strategies : Good readers are aware of when they understand and when they dont. If they have trouble understanding specific words, phrases, or longer passages, they use a wide standing range of problem - solving strategies including skipping ahead , rereading , asking questions , using a dictionary and reading the passage aloud

lets use this strategies. Lets get reading.

Remember you can like us on facebook @inspire nyeri or @

The librarian @ INSPIRE

Lots of contribution of thoughts from the book

" 7 keys to comprehesion: how to help your kids read it and get it" by Susan Zimmerman , and Chryse Hutchins 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Helping your child to become a reader

 "As parents, the most important thing we can do is read to our children early and often. Reading is the path to success in school and life. When children learn to love books, they learn to love reading." - Laura Bush

You could say that your baby starts on the road to becoming a reader on the day they are born and first hears the sound of your voice. Everytime you speak to them, sing to them , and respond to the sounds they make, you strengthen your child's understanding of language. With you to guide them, they are well on their way to becoming a reader.

To understand the connection between a child's early experiences with spoken language and learning to read, you might think of language as a four -legged stool. The four legs are talking, listening , reading and
writing. All four legs are importan; each leg helps to support and balance the others. Remember you dont need to be the best reader to help - your time and interest and the pleasure that you share with your child as part of reading together are what counts. Also keep in mind , however , that children don't all learn at the same pace. And even though they learn new things, they may have their own favourite books and activities from earlier that they still enjoy. You are the best person to decide which activities will work best for your child.

Children become readers step by step. By age 7, most children are reading. Again , some take longer than others , and some need extra help. when children receive the right kind of help in their early years, reading difficulties that can arise later in their lives can be prevented. Remember , every step a child takes toward learning to read leads to another. Bit by bit, the child buids the knowldge that is necessary for being a reader. 

Step 1. Talk and listen

Scientist who study the brain hae found out a great deal about how we learn. They have discovered that babies learn much more from the sights and sounds around them than we thought previously. You can as a parent, help your baby by taking advantage of her hunger to learn. 

From the very beginning, babies try to imitate the sounds that they hear us make. They , "read" the looks on our faces and our movements. That is why it is so important to talk , sing, smile,

and geture to your child. Hearing you talk is your baby's very first step towards becomeing a reader, be

cause it helps them to love language and learn words.

As your child grows older, continue talking to them. Ask them about the things they do. Ask them about events and people in the stories you read together. Let them know that you are listening carefully to what they say. By engaging them in talking and listening , you are also encouraging your child to think as they speak. In addition , you are showing that you respect her knowledge and her ability to keep learning . 

The librarian @inspire community library

Monday, 21 September 2020

When Children choose literature - how to get your children reading

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Choice is vital to successful reading. When children choose books they are interested in reading, they will read them. Choosing their own books encourages them to assume ownership of their decisions and take responsibility for their own learning. Children should choose a book because they are interested in it, rather than because the level of difficulty seems exactly right.

Parents and teachers should note that offering choices give a certain amount of ownership to the children. That small investment of giving choice keeps them interested in the subject at hand, and keeps students motivated on the topic. Required or forced reading can be very boring. It is a challenge to keep students moving forward in a book they show no interest in, even if the book is required reading

When students have the opportunity to read for pleasure, offering a wide selection of books is critical. Children today have dozens of options for how they can spend their time. Choosing the books they want to read puts that activity to the top of the list. Spending time reading for pleasure, on a topic they enjoy, encourages them to read more. More frequent reading offers a wide variety of benefits, including building a more extensive vocabulary. While having a library in the home is ideal, introducing students to the school library and the public library will help with that diversity of options.

When students read, they want the experience to be more than a required activity they have to perform. The material they are reading should be something they enjoy, not a checkmark in a box. The issue of whether a book is too easy or too difficult is secondary to a personal decision made out of interest. The art of making a wise book choice isnt innate. It may mean learning strategies that will improve the childs ability to choose books that will challenge his or her reading abilities.

When working with children on their book choices, brainstorm with them, the type of books they would enjoy reading. Discuss with them the many different types of genres available such as poetry, mystery , adventure , non fiction, humor etc. Discussing the different kinds of available literature also

guides a parent or teacher or caregiver to what children are interested in. 

Also an important thing to note is that peer influence is a powerful force in the child's world of reading

as it is in the adult's world. 

Freedom of choice is a privilege at any age. Along with privilege comes responsibility . Choosing
literature out of personal preference and desire encourages children to become aware of the importance of their choices in their daily lives. They are choosing different people, places , and things to read about. These choices allow children to step in and out of wonderful worlds filled with unique people and situations never before experienced in their own lives. Choice is important because the p
ower of story plays such a significant role in a child's life. What children learn about the world so often come chiefly from the books they choose to become acquinted with. So choice is vitally important. 

The librarian @inspire community library

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

How to get your children to love reading - THOU SHALL NOT JUDGE without knowledge of reading behaviour

There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” – Frank Serafini

The golden question is, ๐Ÿ˜ how do i know what my child will read? Since there is no way of determining by the level indicated on a book, a reading level can only be considered as a suggestion. Readability of a book, often refers to what words a child can recognize and/or sound out, but is not necessarily an indicator of what a child comprehends. In other words, just because a child can say a word doesnt mean he knows what he is saying , and when looking for books, we need to put this in mind. 

Did you know, children listen on a much higher level than they read themsleves. Did you also know that a books readability does not take into account any motivations for reading? A book written " on a level" that holds no interest to a child will be much less pleasurable than a book that speaks to a child. The behavioral consequences of reading a book at a level that holds no motivating force will be the same as that of an overly difficult book: a reading turn-off. If a child is higly motivated to experience a book that is above their  level, they will likely seek help in comprehension by asking another reader or by applying strategies such as guessing from context or using a dictionary (which is something that we should encourage). If the child can successfully find that help, the book will in fact be readable and also stretch their vocabulary, word skills, and attention span. and if your highly capable child chooses a low level book, perhaps they will be using it toward higher-level motivations such as integration and invention, or maybe she just needs a reading ego boost or is reading purely for entertainment (so please dont discourage them). 

The danger of relying on levels occurs more often when the level indicates the book is below a

reader. this nasty attitude separates the reader from the artist and serves the reader poorly. The process of leveling usually displaces picture books from the hands and hearts of older readers (includiing adults), even though an excellent picture book can model the highest forms of narrative and visual art.

The more exposure to a print a child experiences, the more likely it is that he will be able to read well. Trust that an enjoyable quantity of quality chidren's books at a variety of levels should yield favorable test results. The key is basing selections on your own child's motivations . 

Reading levels may indeed be useful suggestions when trying to find materials for children with special and frustrating reading challenges such as dyslexia or word recall problems. Reading levels are also useful for children in the midst of emergent literacy.  These children learn sight words and gain confidence from the repetitions and controlled vocabulary found in early reading books. But children who have advanced beyond emergent literacy should not have anything further to prove outside of the sustained motivation to read, which we , as adults, are in part responsible for cultivating, and which all books potentially can fertilize. Too much attention to book levels can create unnecessary dependency on others to determine appropriateness of material. Nobody knows your child better than you do, except maybe your child, so there's your expert consultant. 

You can encourage children to seek help as they read, you can read aloud to children, you can use reading to share in the thoughts and lives of others. When you look at reading as an experience in which there is a constant flow of support, communication, even socialization, as i have suggested, levels fall into perspective.

                                                      The bottom line is, dont let somebody else's way of determining your a reading system define your child, and dont let reading levels level your child's love of reading. 

 Feel free to air your views. Do you think telling your children no or yes to a book affects them? how do you determine what your child is reading?

Remember that INSPIRE library is here to help. We have books of all ages and we work with your child to help them love reading 

The Librarian

credits to Esme Codel for her wonderful thoughts on reading .

Friday, 28 August 2020

What motivates children towards reading ? THE THREE I's

 "The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it." - Jim Trelease

 readingThe three I's that get your children reading are INTEREST, INTEGRATION AND IINVENTION

lets take a look at what they are as explained by Esme Codell๐Ÿ˜Š

Interest: Interest motivated reading is when a child seeks out reading materials for information and enjoyment. It is the motivation for pleasure reading. Maybe its enjoying a book after seeing a related movie, wanting to read material that a parent or teacher has shared or pursuing a book that helps in pursuit of particular interest. Anything we do for pleasure can have emotional effects: smiles, laughter, tears; the feeling of being less alone; the sense that time is flying; the thrill of new ideas and dreams. Anything we do for pleasure is also likely something we will want to repeat in the future, so even though interest is the simplest motivation, it is also the thing that gets them there. It is a lucky child who is allowed to choose his own books without judgment and whose parents and teachers suggest books solely to make the day more pleasant. It is through the freedom of choice that the child becomes self –actualized as a reader and is more likely to read for a lifetime.

Integration: This is about connecting literature to all areas of interest and learning. Integrated reading happens when a child is convinced to use reading as a springboard into other subjects. Integration takes books into the real world, where life is not separated into subject areas and where things are made and done. Your child may read a nonfiction book because of interest in the subject, but the outcome such as how to work with a recipe may result in experiences that reach far beyond the pleasures and boundaries of the printed page. #letthemread

Invention: Invention motivated reading does not only reflect the many aspects of the book, it showcases the many faces of a reader. In this kind of reading, the child allows the writing to influence his ideas but not dictate the final product. They take the reading and invent something of their own. Reading that initiates or inspires invention may also elicit responses that have a very indirect relationship to the book such as imitating small personal qualities of admired characters. Reading that motivates may be the most powerful of all. It is such reading that helps children experiment and ultimately decide what kind of people they want to be. In other words, it is such reading that helps
chiildren invent themselves. The book holds the child's interest, the child sees possible connections to the world beyond the book , and then the child decides to use that interest and insight to create something new. Invention motivated chidren arent just reading books. They are doing books, living books!.

in conclusion

Helping children to read more is the first step to success, so all motivations are valid.  In combination , they are building blocks to a lifelong love of reading and learning and a sense of competency that may translate into higher grades and better success with other challenges. In combination, they create a fourth I , IDENTITY: I am a reader. I am a lover of books. I can get the information i need from words. I have the power of literacy.

As a parent be on the look out for what motivates your child to read. Work with it and remember there is no shortage of books because INSPIRE library is a call, a text and email away. We can organize how to get books into your childrens hands.  

The Librarian

email, leave a comment letting us know your questions or suggestions on reading, or follow us so you can get updated on the next article