Donkeys Bring Books To Rural Zimbabwe

We all know rural communities hardly get their fair share of basic necessities. However, recent changes such as solar roofing and drone deliveries have been making life easier for them. For this humble town in rural Zimbabwe, donkey-pulled mobile libraries are making their way to schools and other establishments.

Dr. Obadiah Moyo, the founder of RLRDP (Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program), credits the organization with creating the world’s first donkey-powered mobile libraries . . . These small, roofed, two-wheeled units are divided into lockable compartments, with space for up to three rider-drivers.

Donkeys are abundant in rural Zimbabwe and are used to carrying heavy loads, making them perfect drivers of the project. (Hee-haw!) A few of the carts also sport solar panels for charging gadgets as well as providing Internet and a printer. The upkeep is difficult, but covered mostly by various benefactors.

Moyo estimates that it takes about $150,000 a year to cover the operating costs of RLRDP, and the charity has received financial support from the Latter-Day Saints and Save the Children. As for the books themselves, many of them are supplied by Book Aid International.

Since the arrival of the donkey-mobiles, educational passing rates have risen. And hopefully, children and teachers alike remain inspired.

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Dolly Parton Donates 100 Millionth Children’s Book

For the digital generation, printed novels are a thing of the past. While comics and classics alike are making their way into Kindles, Gen X’s are doing what they can to keep them old school. As an increasing number of libraries are scrapping fees, country superstar Dolly Parton is busy donating books. In fact, she just pledged her 100 millionth to children in need.

“I never thought about being ‘the book lady,’ ” [Parton] joked… “The painted lady, yes, the overexaggerated lady. That goes to show you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Founder of the nonprofit Imagination Library, Parton sends families a book a month. The songbird is donating up to a million books a month, and hit a milestone at the Library of Congress. Parton, clearly a daddy’s girl, has dedicated the selfless act to her late father.

“Of all the things I’ve done in my life — and it’s been a lot because I’ve been around — this is the most precious,” she said. “Maybe we’ll be back for a billion.”

Looks like a brand-new record isn’t the only thing going platinum this year!

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So You Want To Start A Blog?

Now that we’ve established anyone can write a book, starting a blog might be on your radar. While it’s a great way to express yourself and share opinions with netizens, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Casual or professional, blogging isn’t for the idle writer. But if you’re brimming with ideas, it may be the perfect platform for you.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a computer wiz to start a blog. All you need is a vision and lots of commitment. But before jumping ahead, decide what you want to blog about. A sensible place to start would be where your passion lies. Don’t dwell on how your potential readers might respond — we’ll get to that later. Think of a topic you can go on about for hours, or even days. You can also try brain-mapping. 

Once you have outlined your content, pick out a blogging platform. For most, WordPress is more or less a go-to site for its user-friendly interface. However, the freedom is yours. If you are hoping to reach a wide audience (which, I assume, would be anyone’s intent), select a host for your blog. Most web hosts provide inexpensive plans that will suit your needs. This will get your site circulating.

It may seem the least of your worries, but choosing a domain is essential to your online identity. Remember that your title will come with a fee, so be thoughtful! Figure out what best represents you and what is easiest to remember. If you are keen on using your own name, consider dropping anything that is hard to spell. Using a suggested title isn’t out of the question, but keep it unique.

Another important step (and no, you needn’t be an HTML expert) is to establish a themeFree options are perfectly fine but a few tweaks and accents may help your aesthetic stand out. Tinker with various layouts that best suit your style. Are you a photographer? A journalist? What would catch your eye? Be meticulous. Don’t teeter between formats — it may confuse your followers!

After getting the technical tasks out of the way, it’s time to begin your journey! While it’s important to make sure your first piece is gripping, make sure you consistently put out quality content. Nobody wants to read a boring blog! If, at some point, you’re stumped for topics, draft your ideas in advance. It always helps to know what you’ll be writing about in a few weeks’ time. Better yet, schedule your posts. Are you willing to publish once, twice, or three times a week? Decide how great of a load you can carry to avoid missing out on a post. Remember — nothing beats being honest with yourself regarding how much you can handle.

In a (now) predominantly virtual world, blogging is the most efficient way to have meaningful conversations. Though the most successful writers are undoubtedly very opinionated, don’t forget your online etiquette. A smart blogger may end up popular, but a firm and respectful one is also highly esteemed.

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Library Books Are Free To Rent For L.A. Kids

In places like New York, educational institutions are becoming less restrictive towards low-income families. This is so much so that children are now enjoying free lunches to ease financial burdens and prevent bullying. But the fact remains — many continue to struggle with other expenses such as tuition fees and school materials. Realizing the sheer significance of free knowledge, L.A. County has waived library fees for readers under 21.

“When charges accrue on a young person’s account, generally, they don’t pay the charges and they don’t use the card,” [library administrator Darcy] Hastings said. “A few dollars on their accounts means they stop using library services.”

As past fines persist, the county is also offering a “Read Away” service for young bookworms. Simply by picking out a novel to digest for an afternoon, students can eliminate fees at $5 an hour.

“You tell them you’ll read and they’ll sign you in and you start,” said Leilany, a fifth-grader at Morris K. Hamasaki Elementary in East L.A. “When your head starts losing the book you can stop reading and they tell you how much money they took away.”

Reading for fun and paying off debts? Sounds like a win-win for literature lovers looking to knock off a couple of bucks!

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Audiobooks For Dogs Therapeutic For Your Pooch

It’s been proven time and again that music is an effective form of therapy. It has allowed people to improve their communication skills and reduce stress. While music tends to calm animals equally as much as it does so with humans, dog whisperer Cesar Millan thinks there is something even better. Audiobooks for dogs are now available for your canine companion.

Audible for Dogs is designed for anxious pets that don’t like being left at home alone; Millan’s Dog Psychology Center reports that audiobooks are much more effective in relaxing dogs and reducing their stress than music… These audiobooks will calm dogs and help them feel less alone.

While you can choose pretty much whatever audiobook you prefer, Millan does have a list of suggestions. Among the handpicked titles are “A Dog’s Purpose” and “The Art of Racing in the Rain” — perfect for your pooch. Others, such as “Pride and Prejudice” are a bit more eccentric (and perhaps for dogs who enjoy classical literature).

This isn’t a completely separate program; subscribers to Audible will be able to purchase these audiobooks, and anyone can access Millan’s videos for free on the website.

While we may never know if audiobook therapy has any true scientific merit, it does seem like a fun activity for both man and his best friend.

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Book-Writing Is Possible, Even For Non-Writers

The truth is, anyone can write a book. There is no need to seek permission or validation. If people have published books from prison cells, you pretty much have the license to do so anywhere and anytime you please. It will happen — but not without the effort.

Everything about writing is easier said than done. While it’s possible for a non-writer to produce a bestseller, being articulate doesn’t always come naturally. If this is the case, take a writing class. Learn the fundamentals. Figure out how to say what you want to say so that readers are interested and enticed. Now would be a good time to revive past English papers — even the nightmarish ones.

When you think you’ve reigned in (and possibly mastered) some valuable skills, decide what you want to write about. Don’t worry about how your idea may be received. Think about what is meaningful to you and possibly to others. Most important is your outline. Come up with a beginning, middle, and end — but allow things to change.

Set daily goals. Writing a book is not a weekly activity. While a burst of inspiration may up your word count over the weekend, you could encounter a stump. Think about how much writing you can achieve in a day, whether by pages or word count. And don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s not about writing a lot but writing frequently. Don’t forget to set overall goals as well. Don’t worry about length — but consider whether you want your book to be novella-style or standard length.

In line with setting goals is organizing your schedule. If your daily life is fairly regulated, pick a time to write each day. Think of your schedule as a strict deadline, otherwise you won’t be motivated. Reward yourself for a good job done every now and then.

Publishing a book is not just about you. Find someone who can help edit your work. While it is a good and necessary investment to find a renowned editor, gather feedback from your family and friends. With that being said, don’t take criticism personally. More often than not, people are not out to attack your writing. Be constantly open-minded and think about what others would enjoy as well.

When all is said and done, decide whether you want to hire a publisher or self-publish. While self-publishing may seem like the reasonable thing to do as a first-time book writer, it also demands more work. Are you willing to take risks? Can you go the extra mile? Weigh the pros and cons of each option. Perhaps you can consult with someone involved in the publishing world.

See your book through to the end. Be proud of yourself, separate from sales. Most of all, keep writing. You don’t have to produce another book. If you’ve fallen in love with the craft, there are many different ways to engage with it. Keep practicing! Start a blog. Write a column. Create a zine. Constantly hone your skills. You never know when you’ll come up with something even more meaningful.

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Artist Builds Parthenon Out Of Books

Some artists boast unusual styles–take the pixel painter who creates portraits out of virtually anything. Others, like Michelangelo, are famous for their grandeur. Artist Marta Minujin is definitely (and literally) making it big, having built a Parthenon using 100,000 books.

Minujín… didn’t just erect that 45-foot-tall structure anywhere. Rather, she chose to build it in the town of Kassel, Germany — and more specifically a plaza called Friedrichsplatz. It was there that, in 1933, members of the Nazi Party burned approximately 2,000 books.

During the “Campaign Against the Un-German Spirit,”… Nazis attempted to do away with any… works… they saw as “un-German” or having corruptive Jewish or “decadent” qualities. During this campaign, the Nazis burned thousands of works of literature that they deemed degenerate or subversive.

Not only did Minujin take months to build the Parthenon–she had to identify 170 banned and censored books. Now that’s symbolism for you. Minujin had also constructed a book-thenon in the 80s following the fall of the military junta in Argentina.

By building these Parthenons, Minujín says she seeks to highlight one thing: that the open exchange of ideas — not their suppression — is the key to building a stable democratic state.

Minujin’s art is a true testament to literature. And who knows? We may run into another Parthenon in the near future.

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