Phillipa lives in Sierra Leone with her two children, both of whom have a love for reading. We recently spoke to her about the value of books, how they support learning and why she thinks they are especially important during a pandemic.
“My children have a love for books. At their grandma’s house there are books they can borrow, but one day they said to me “Mom, we’ve read all those books, we’re tired of reading the same books all over again.”
So I thought “Ok, if they finished all of those books, where would I have a source of more books for them?”. So I said “Guys, would you be interested if I register you and I enrol you in the Sierra Leone Library Board?” and they came alive and said, “Yes, that would be great”.
I said “Guys, would you be interested if I register you and I enrol you in the Sierra Leone Library Board?” and they came alive and said, “Yes, that would be great”.
My children like all kinds of books, for my son, he likes fiction – words that have pictures that come alive, because he also loves drawing, whilst for my daughter, her imagination is very good, so she prefers those that have less pictures and she designs in her mind what she’s reading.
When my children read I notice an increase in their vocabulary, their verbal expression and also in their writing content. Their content is very rich because their imaginative capacity has been increased. So when they write, you can feel some depth in their content.
There’s nothing that can take the place of books. You learn across cultures through books. You learn about your heritage and your history. You would not have known history if nobody had documented it.
There’s nothing that can take the place of books.
Many in Sierra Leone have no internet, so when we had to lockdown because of the pandemic books were especially valuable. We would collect some materials from school for the children and then they will do their assignments, then you go back to the school and drop it off. At least that was to fill in for the gap during lockdown but it definitely doesn’t replace totally the entire educational system. So there was a big break during that period. But without books – well imagine if they weren’t there, how boring it would’ve been!”