Title: Creating Room to Read
Author: John Wood
Publisher: Viking (2013)
My Rating: 4/5
John Wood’s first trip to Nepal opened his eyes to a vicious cycle: When people are poor, they cannot afford good education; but as long as people have no education, they will always be poor. A Nepalese school administrator uttered the words that would haunt Wood’s mind, driving him to begin the movement known as Room to Read: “Perhaps, sir, you will someday come back with books.”
For that reason, Creating Room to Read could aptly be called a book about books. It is an autobiographical look at one man’s mission to bring libraries to children everywhere. Creating Room to Read reads like the biography of a movement, although in some sense it could be more fittingly called a biography of John Wood’s involvement in that movement. This is Wood’s second book focusing on his transition from an executive role at Microsoft to creating an ultra-successful NGO that builds libraries in poor communities worldwide. This book, like Wood’s example, inspired me to think of ways to get involved in bringing hope and education to others who have received fewer material blessings than I.
I was particularly struck by how well the Room to Read team takes local communities on as partners, rather than projects. Many charities today would do well to learn from that example. Room to Read only builds a library if that community is willing to partner with them, because without local involvement, an outside group’s help will be of limited value.
In sum, Creating Room to Read is moving and inspiring. It is a true story of how determination can change the world. I want to thank the publisher for sending me an advance copy to read and review; they didn’t require me to write a positive review, and all opinions above are my own.