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Portable Library Pilot Project

We want local language storybooks to become an integral part of every Ugandan child's literacy journey. 

The Background

With the implementation of the Ministry of Education and Sports thematic curriculum reform in 2006, local language literacy has become a key feature of the early primary curriculum. There are now pupil primers and teacher guides in at least 12 Ugandan languages, but there is still a lack of supplemental storybooks in most Ugandan languages.


Mango Tree Literacy Lab has developed over 100 storybooks in an inexpensive, easy to reproduce format. We are slowly getting these books formatted for sharing online, but we’re also looking for other effective delivery systems to get more storybooks in the hands of children, both in the classroom and at home.

One Solution 

Our Literacy Lab is experimenting with the development of an inexpensive, multi-purpose portable library that could provide a means to get a wide range of storybooks into the hands of Ugandan children. In 2017-2018, we piloted a portable library prototype and are now looking for funding to improve the model and expand into many more schools in northern Uganda.

Components of the Portable Library

1. The Storybooks

Our books have all been written or revised by experienced local writers. The illustrators are all talented, young Ugandans who understand how to engage the imaginations of children. Many of the themes of the books were selected to creatively address topics in the national curriculum. 

While the quality of the writing and illustration are high, we've also designed our books to be easy and inexpensive to reproduce. Most of our books can be printed for less than US $0.25 per copy. Our current Level One portable library, designed for Primary 1 pupils, contains twelve titles with 20 copies of each title, for a total of 240 storybooks. 

3. Hanging Library

Each portable library has six hanging libraries made from local grain sacks and cloth. The pockets for the hanging library are made from clear plastic. The hanging library also has a wooden dowel and rope for hanging. One hanging library holds ten copies of four different titles. 


2. The Teacher’s Guide


Each portable library also has a comprehensive guide for implementing a wide range of activities, from classroom lessons, to implementing a classroom library, to parent engagement, to creating a reading school-wide reading mentor program. Many of the books utilized in these lessons can be downloaded for free here

Portable Library Teacher's Guide 2018 FI

The Teacher's Guide Curriculum

Art and Technology Lesson

2. Free Activity Lesson Plans or Classroom Library Activities


Free activity is a weekly component of the curriculum in early primary. We've developed a plan to help teachers turn some of those weekly lessons into Classroom Library Activities. We recommend conducting these lessons outside under trees, so that learners have the space to spread out into small groups. 

Parent Bookmark Take A Book Home

1. Curriculum Integrated Lesson Plans


We've worked with experienced local teachers to develop lesson plans that integrate our storybooks during key thematic lesson plans. All of our lesson plans are designed for the non-literacy lessons taught each day, so that they don't interfere with the national literacy curriculum. We've integrated storybooks into Math, Religious Education, Music Dance and Drama, Physical Education, and Art and Technology lessons. 

3. Parent Engagement Activities


We also provide teachers with a range of strategies to involve parents in portable library activities. We show teachers how to create a simple lending library system so that selected pupils can take books home each week. Parents communicate their experiences with the books at home through specially designed library bookmarks. 

4. Peer Mentor Training and Activities


Our teacher's guide also includes a 12-week Reading Mentor Program for pupils in P4 and P5. These pupil volunteers are first trained by their teachers, and from then they meet with their P1 mentees once a week, usually on Thursdays.


In the first year of the pilot these older children expanded the scope of their work by going out into the community to read to whoever was interested.  In the second year of the pilot we gave all the Reading Mentors their own book bags for carrying the library books at all times. Each team of Reading Mentors organized their own community reading activities. 

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