Hardships Cannot Keep this Cambodian 2nd Grader out of the Library

“I want to be a doctor, so that I can help people,“ says the bright, smiling second grader, Narin. “ I am working hard to get there and I am confident that I will be able to fulfill my dreams.” She says these things in Khmer, the language of Cambodia and also the familiar and frightening name of the Khmer Rouge.


From 1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia. They ruled by genocide, killing every educated person they could. You would even be killed if you wore glasses, because they assumed you knew how to read. The Khmer regime wanted to rebuild Cambodia as a completely agrarian society empty of books, schools and educational progress.

Just 30 years later, Cambodians like little Narin are falling in love with learning thanks in part to our partners at Room to Read.

Room to Read envisions a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world. Narin is the perfect example of Room to Read’s work and we are honored to support their successful efforts.


After his wife passed away a few years ago, Narin’s father, an army man, was forced to relocate to the Thai border. He left his daughter behind to live with her grandmother, who earns a meager living selling rice noodles at the local market.

Narin’s day starts at the break of dawn helping her grandmother with household chores and assisting with preparation of the noodles. Unable to afford a bicycle, she then walks a mile and a half to school, rushing so as to have time in the library before class.

“The library period is too short and not enough for me, so I make extra time to go there whenever I can,” she says with a smile.

Narin has not always been such an enthusiastic reader, but ever since Room to Read established a library at her school in 2010, she is a regular visitor. She loves playing with the puzzles and games there, and knows where to find all her favorite books by heart.


“I read about eight books each day, and borrow two or so to take home with me at a time,” she says. “I read those stories aloud to my grandmother who is very proud of my skills and also to my uncle who is in seventh grade.”

“Ever since she started going to the library, Narin’s reading skills have improved considerably,” says Narin’s teacher. “She can now read at a third grade reading level, and is a role model for other students in the school.”

Over six million children have been served through Room to Read’s work over the years. Their goal is to reach 10 million children by 2015 and you can help! Every single time you donate books to or buy books from Better World Books you are supporting our amazing partners, like Room to Read and the millions of children like Narin that they inspire to read every day.

Fun Fact: We have raised over $11 million for our partners, including donating $518,000 to Room to Read, and with your help can reach even more children through education!

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