Building a Public Library
for Burma (Myanmar)

Burma (Myanmar) was once a country of reading. Books, writing and literature have played an important role throughout its history, and the streets of Rangoon (Yangon) are still filled with people in tea shops reading newspapers, old books and magazines -- whatever reading material they can get a hold of.

Unfortunately, books and magazines are hard to come by. The cost of shipping books to Myanmar makes buying books too expensive for most people. The local publishing industry is not well developed. Even Yangon's many second hand bookstores are out of reach for most. With an average monthly income of under US$40, $2 per book means a big investment.

Children are affected by this lack of books. Research into Early Childhood Development has continually shown that regular reading at a young age is key to developing both an enthusiasm for learning and strong literacy skills. With few opportunities for decent schooling, independent reading and study is one of the few options for educational development.

Banyan Tree Reading Centre in Yangon's first children's library. Banyan Tree Reading Centre works through developmentally appropriate children's games, art and literacy classes to build early literacy skills and a love of reading among Yangon's children.