Philanthropist John Wood makes book tour stop, urges students to get involved
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 23:02
“If you want to change the world, there’s no better way to start than with education,” John Wood, founder of the philanthropic organization Room to Read, said.
Wood kicked off the tour for his new book “Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy” in SMU’s Hughes-Trigg auditorium Feb. 6, 2013 at 6 p.m. He spoke to a group of 20 SMU students and faculty members.
After a life-changing trip to Nepal, Wood quit his job at Microsoft and founded Room to Read and has never looked back.
Room to Read is a philanthropic organization that is responsible for opening over 15,000 libraries in developing countries, impacting over 7.5 million children.
Wood and his team go into impoverished countries and seek out communities that need help improving their education systems.
Wood made it known, however, that his team picks communities that wish to help themselves.
The natives help dig the foundation for the libraries and paint the walls. It is very much a co-investment, where the people want to send their children to school, which strengthens the chance of success amongst them, according to Wood.
“We’re not going into these communities as foreigners,” Wood said. “We are working with them if they want to help themselves.”
In many of these countries, poor families are forced to choose one of their children to send to school, if they can send one at all. In this situation, Wood said the boys are always selected, which is why his organization focuses on schooling girls. Room to Read has made it possible for 20,000 girls to attend school.
When asked by an audience member if Room to Read collaborates with other councils in building schools, Wood explained that it does.
He said that most of the thousands of schools that have opened were made possible by the work of other major organizations, but they lacked libraries and books.
Room to Read works to build the libraries as well as stock them with books. The organization finds local authors and illustrators to create books specific to the school’s area. Room to Read is currently responsible for 850 original titles.
“We’re the biggest children’s publisher you’ve never heard of,” Wood joked. He said they are putting talents from the developing world to good use as well as engaging students in books that they can relate to.
Wood’s steadfast perseverance is what drives Room to Read to its great success. The organization is well on its way to accomplishing its goal of raising $10 million by 2015.
He urged the audience to get involved and start a chapter at SMU to raise money for a library. He then left the audience with a photograph of a young Nepali girl smiling outside a dirt shack.
“Go ahead. Make her day” Wood said.