Bright Star Mobile Library: Fostering Peace and Tolerance through Reading in Pakistan

By Cody Minnich, Give2Asia Programs Intern

When I was a kid, I spent the majority of my summers hidden away inside the local public library intent on conquering my school’s summer reading list. My time devoted to reading in the library exposed me to new concepts and cultures, expanded my vocabulary, and improved my ability to understand complex ideas. Most importantly, reading allowed me to absorb the knowledge and experiences of others, cultivating the ability to empathize in a deeper and more meaningful way. Reading is crucial to early childhood development, but access to a library full of books is a necessity not every community gets to enjoy.

In the Bhara Kahu and Nilore communities in the rural outskirts of Pakistan’s Islamabad Capital Territory, one organization is working tirelessly to provide access to books to young students of primary schools. Bright Star Mobile Library (BSML) commenced operations in 2011 serving 1,000 school children every week. This coverage has gradually increased. Today the BSML serves over 5,000 students every week in 20 primary schools with its four bookmobiles. In addition to providing access to books to these students, the BSML staff conducts story telling and guided book reading sessions to attract the young to the world of books and generate in them love for reading.  

Bright Star Mobile Library needs your help to build their first brick-and-mortar library outside of Islamabad to give thousands of children access to books year-round.

Click here to contribute!

Schools served by Bright Star Mobile Library do not have library facilities and the majority of their students come from under privileged households that do not have income to buy books for their children. Bright Star Mobile Library reaches these students during the critical first five years of school by introducing them to the world of books and helping them develop a lifelong love of reading. The books selected for the young readers are specially chosen to entertain them, inform them, spark their interest, and capture their imagination. As the children learn about the diversity of cultures and beliefs around the world, they develop the capacity to empathize with people that are different from them.

Bright Star Mobile Library provides an invaluable service to these communities, but their operations are not without constraints. One of the challenges is that BSML school visits are interrupted due to school holidays, which total almost five months out of the year. An even greater issue is that Bright Star is only able to serve primary schools, so when students move on to the 6th grade, they no longer have access to the mobile libraries. Although Bright Star would like to provide services to more schools, their operations are stretched to the limits of their capacity with available resources and requests from new schools for their services cannot be accommodated.

Bright Star Mobile Library plans to combat these constraints, which keep thousands of children without access to books for almost half of each year, by building a permanent brick-and-mortar location. The permanent library would open up Bright Star to all youth in the area who are interested in reading, including children of religious and informal schools, as well as children who are not currently enrolled in school. The will bring the world of reading to young people who would never have exposure otherwise. Increasing literacy amongst this vulnerable population and providing them a safe space to learn will open up a world of new opportunities. The impact of Bright Star would grow exponentially with the construction of a permanent location and their vision to foster peace and tolerance would be further realized.

A generous Give2Asia donor has committed to a $50,000 grant to Bright Star Mobile Library, contingent on the organization raising the remaining $30,000 needed to purchase the land to build the permanent library. Your contribution will nearly be tripled if this milestone can be reached!

If you wish to help Bright Star Mobile Library establish their first permanent library location, visit Give2Asia’s donation site here. Your contribution will support the gift of reading for generations of young people in Pakistan!