Books For All:
Books Open the Door to the Future

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  • Books For All: Books Open the Door to the Future

Around the world, we find many children who have never seen a book or even their own written language due to situations they find themselves in, such as war, poverty, disasters, etc.

Since 1981 when SVA launched its assistance activities, it has been running educational and cultural support activities that help people find a sense of purpose as a person through reading books.

As these activities have developed, our experience has shown us that the power of books does not change, no matter the place or time. SVA believes that the power of books is essential to children’s development.

Reading for Fun

Children living in harsh conditions such as slums, refugee camps, or conflict areas do not have much time or many opportunities when they can be just kids in their daily life. In such circumstances, the world of story is a great escape for them. They feel joy, fun, and happiness in the world of stories, which allows them to share these same feelings with other people in the future.

Non-cognitive Abilities and Reading

Reading helps children develop both cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Learning words and increasing knowledge through books improves their cognitive skills. Children who have discovered the world of stories have spiritual and emotional experiences through it, which cultivates hope, courage, confidence, comfort, positiveness, and creativity. Moreover, they can improve non-cognitive skills, including the motivation and tenacity for goal achievement, sociality and cooperativeness to work harmoniously with others, ability to control their emotions, confidence, self-esteem, and more.

Libraries as Spaces Where Children Can relax

Librarians give psychological support to children suffering from stress and trauma caused by lives in very poor conditions and displacement due to conflicts, by building up a trusted relationship with children as a storyteller. The library has become a space where they can spend their time with a sense of security.

Poem by a 10-year-old boy about the community library
in a Myanmar (Burma) refugee camp at Thai-border

A library opened! A library opened!
I am very happy now.
I must go to school every day
Some lessons are very difficult for me
I am sometimes scolded or beaten by my teacher
I sometimes wear clothes with holes when I go to school
Then, my friends laugh at them
I am scolded by my parents if I keep playing outside
But now the library is opened.
Even when scolded, I feel better
while reading a book in the library
Library books don’t scold me or beat me;
When wearing clothes with holes
They do not laugh at me
They always soothe my heart.
That’s why I love the library.

Children’s Rights and Library

The Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the United Nations in 1989 stipulates that every child is guaranteed the right to survival, the right to development, the right to protection, and the right to participation according to their developmental stage.
It also states that education, culture, and leisure comprise important rights of the child.

SVA recognizes the library as an institution that guarantees one of children’s rights.

Right to survival: We hold childbirth classes at a community library in Nepal to help infants survive by providing mothers with knowledge about health, hygiene, nutrition, etc. that is necessary for child-rearing.

Right to development: Reading and having books read to them helps children develop imagination, communication skills, and an attitude to cooperate with others, as well as knowledge.

Right to protection: The library offers a space where children can feel safe and secure even in situations where they are exposed to armed conflict like in Afghanistan.

Right to participation: The library functions as a place where children can express their opinions through cultural activities such as dance, music, embroidery, drawing, plays, and poetry.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the treaty concluded (signed, ratified, acceded to, or inherited) by the largest number of countries in the world.
As of the end of 2020, 196 countries and regions have signed it, and the contracting parties are obliged to enforce the Convention and report on its progress.

Messages from Children

Myanmar (Burma) refugee camp
Sweet De Lay
Myanmar (Burma) refugee camp
Naw Su Su
Myanmar (Burma) refugee camp
Naw Oma Sun
Myanmar (Burma) refugee camp
Chaw Shit Twoo
Myanmar (Burma) refugee camp
Saw Win Tin
Hai Gay Mu

Stories of People
Who Opened Up Their Future

Even a child from the slums had doors open on a global stage
SVA has been providing children in Asia with educational support and emergency relief for over 35 years since we started assistance activities at Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand in 1981. One woman who used the library that SVA operates in a Thai slum was able to make her dream a reality.
The power of books allowed me to dream
SVA has been supporting the operation of Children’s Home, a comprehensive facility for children, since 1996. Sounitar, who was good at singing and dancing and also was able to tell stories from picture books, was a kind of leader among the children regularly coming to Children’s Home.
If I Had Not Encountered Books
For children born and raised in refugee camps at the border between Thailand and Myanmar, library books work as a window that connects them to the outside world. Ms. Naw July Paw is a volunteer at the library in the refugee camp who reads books to children.
A Library in a Refugee Camp Is Where My Journey Began
Mr. Shee Sho, who grew up in a refugee camp when he was little and then moved to the United States with his family, was a boy who liked to imitate pictures in library books. He was saved by painting when he would visit the library in his childhood. Mr. Shee Sho, wished to get a job teaching painting and fulfilled his dream.
The Library Was a Beacon of Hope for Me
Ms. Tik Thoo, who got married early, was gossiped about by her neighbors and other people around her and became increasingly socially withdrawn. It was the library that gave her a ray of hope. Ms. Tik Thoo became the leader of young volunteers through her experience of being praised for the first time in her life by other people.
Watch Videos

Watch the video “People with Books”


Myanmar (Burma) refugee camp
Sweet De Lay / 11year old

I have four younger sisters and brothers. I like learning and I study eight subjects. I like math best. I go to the library every day to listen to storytelling and play games with my friends. My favorite picture book is New Parents and Five Eggs, because I want to take care of my parents and sick people. I want to say thank you to everyone supporting us so that we can learn many lessons and gain knowledge through picture books.


I get up at 7 a.m., wash my face, eat breakfast, and then leave for school at 8 a.m. I like Lao class, because I find it interesting. I want to become a Lao teacher. I like reading stories, and my favorite is “My “MY MIRACLE DRESS” Published by KOGUMA Publishing Co,Ltd.,Tokyo
. Thank you to everyone who has given beautiful books that I can read.

Sally / 11year old

I am the eldest son and have three siblings. My mother works at a clothing store and my father farms. I help my parents when I have time. I like drawing and reading picture books. Thank you for supporting our school.

Rattana / 10 year old

I am in the fifth grade of elementary school. I have a younger sister and a younger brother. I always get up at 6 a.m., fetch water, feed the ducks and chickens, eat breakfast, and go to school at 7 a.m. I want to become a police officer. I like to read a book called “Zoo Doctor” Published by Fukuinkan Shoten. Thank you for the interesting and good story books you gave us.

Vanshit / 11 years old

I’m in the fifth grade of elementary school. My father and mother work in the field. I have a younger brother. I always get up at 6 a.m., steam the rice, fetch water, eat breakfast, and then leave for school at 7 a.m. I like Lao class. I also like reading and writing. In the future, I want to become a Lao teacher. I like to read the book called “Friends “ published by Kosei Publishing.

Myanmar (Burma) refugee camp
Naw Su Su / 11 years old

I go to school every day, and I like Buddhist texts class where we can learn morals. I live with my grandma and five cousins. I help my grandma by fetching water, preparing meals, and cleaning the house. If I have time, I go to the library with my friends and listen to storytelling. I like the book called “Kimono in the Color of the Sun”. When I grow up, I want to become a nurse and take care of my dad, mom, and grandma.

Myanmar (Burma) refugee camp
Naw Oma Sun / 14 years old

I love studying, especially math. When I have time, I help my family with housework and then go to play with my friends. I go to the library every day. My favorite book is “Animal Mothers”published by Fukuinkan Shoten. I can see how much mothers of various animals love their children. I want to be a nurse in the future to take care of my family and the people of my ethnic group.

Myanmar (Burma) refugee camp
Chaw Shit Twoo / 7 year old

I go to the library once a week. My favorite picture book is “Seven Little Mice Go to School” published by Hisakata child. Because it is a story of a peaceful family. I want to be a teacher in the future.

Myanmar (Burma) refugee camp
Saw Win Tin / 11 years old

I am a Pwo Karen. I live in the refugee camp with my parents and four siblings. The school is close to the library, so I go to the library after lunch or after school. In the library, I like to read books and listen to storytelling. My favorite book is a picture book called Swim. Because I like to swim, too. In the future, I want to be a soldier who protects people.

Hai Gay Mu / 11 years old

I wake up at 5 a.m. every morning to help my parents with fetching water and cleaning the house. Then I go to school around 8 a.m. Karen language is my favorite subject. I go to the library twice a week to read books and draw pictures. My favorite picture book is “A Wife Who Eats Nothing” published by Fukuinkan Shoten, a Japanese folk tale. I like it because its pictures are beautiful. I want to be a teacher in the future and go back to Myanmar to give lessons to children.

Sonic / 9 years old

I wake up at 6 a.m. to help my father and mother with housework such as washing dishes, and go to school at 7 a.m. I like studying sardines. I want to see sardines. I want to know a lot about sardines. I hope there are a lot of books in the school.

Sleika / 14 years old

I live with my father, mother, grandmother, and three brothers. My father sells fruit and my mother works in a factory. After school, I help with the housework such as washing dishes, cleaning, washing clothes, cooking, etc. I read books in my spare time. When I grow up, I want to work in a factory and help my beloved father and mother.

Sleiphon / 14 years old

I like to read books in my free time at school, and my favorite story is “Greedy Person”. After school, I lend a hand with household chores and also help my aunt harvest vegetables. When I grow up, I want to make money by sewing clothes. Thank you for always sending us a lot of books. I was able to learn a lot from them.

Cheuto / 16 years old

I live in a slum. I live with my father, mother, two brothers and two sisters. My father earns money by begging and mother keeps house. I help my father also by begging at Odom Resort. I like the SVA books, and my favorite book is “Blind Man and Disable Man”. I want to be an engineer when I grow up.

ShanShin / 15 years old

I live in a slum. I live with my mother and two elder sisters, and I am the youngest. I always read books when I have time at school. After school, I always help my mother. Sadly, mother has told me to leave school because we don’t have enough money. I like the SVA books.

Nasil / 6 years old

I have been visiting the library for two years. I like the library and have been taking the preparatory class for elementary school. I like storytelling lessons, and my favorite sport is cricket. And beans are my favorite food. In the future, I want to be a good teacher and give lessons to poor Afghan children. Thank you to everyone in Japan for supporting us and setting up a wonderful library.