Research shows that access to books makes a huge difference to a child’s life chances.  Books for Africa is a charity that is working to give that important access to children across Africa.

Books for Africa was established in 1988 by Minnesotan Tom Warth following his travels to Africa.  After returning home, he shipped several mailbags of books to African libraries and schools from a church basement in Minnesota. 

In the three decades since those humble beginnings, the St Paul based charity has grown to be the world’s largest supplier of donated books in Africa.  It collects, sorts and ships books from all over the world to 49 African countries.

Quality education and improving life chances

This vital work helps children and adults across the continent to access books – increasing the access to quality education and improving life chances. 

A 2002 World Bank report found that next to a good teacher “a good textbook is the most effective medium of instruction”.  This finding has been reiterated in subsequent World Bank studies.  In 2015, a World Bank report stated, “No other input is likely to be more cost-effective than making high-quality learning materials available to all students”.

This is backed up by reports from book shipment recipients.  David Robinson, a BFA container recipient in Tanzania told the charity:

Development requires education.  If you can put a book in the hands of a child now, in a short time that child is going to become a leader of something: his family, his co-op, his village.  And in a short time, you’ve taken the potential, the capacity and enhanced it to the level that it has to be if we’re going to become global citizens.

3.1 Millions Books Shipped

The charity now runs special programs to send school textbooks to Sub-Saharan Africa, a Law and Democracy initiative to supply books to law libraries, an Agricultural Library initiative and a French book program to supply books to Francophone Africa.

In 2017, Books for Africa announced it had shipped 3.1 million educational, library, and law books to 18 African countries, with a value of around $33 million – making 2017 a record-breaking year for the charity.

Patrick Plonski, Books for Africa’s executive director, commented:

To be successful in life, you don’t need a million good ideas, you need one or two excellent ideas fully implemented.  I think of Books for Africa as one of those excellent ideas fully implemented.

To find out more – or to donate or receive books, visit the charity’s website here: