Bridging the gap at Tchey banner image

We have been watching the momentum of our library program in recent years with a great deal of pride and satisfaction, seeing its growing impact on student cohorts, their families, and even reaching into new communities.

With Theada now firmly driving the program ever-forward in her new role as Library Director, we are anticipating that 2024 will be a pivot year in which additional activities and strategies can be rolled out as part of her program oversight. 

We know that READING ROCKS for so many reasons and we pour a lot into our library programs. Books bring so many benefits, and developing a reading habit – for pleasure as much as for school – is one of the most empowering things students can acquire. With a lot going on at each of our libraries, we wanted to share some of the highlights with you in this round-up!


One of the first strategies that Theada has implemented is the expansion of Reading Day events. We’ve been holding these monthly at KVLC library for some time – but this year, and timed to coincide with National Reading Day on March 11th, our primary schools in Preah Vihear and learning center in Srayang joined the activities for the first time ever. Ravuth, who has returned to his homeland and taken up the position as Assistant Field Director for Preah Vihear, was also instrumental in these events, supporting and guiding the librarians with his experience from KVLC.

The Cambodian government first introduced National Reading Day in 2016 to address low literacy rates across the country (at that time, only 80% of the population aged over 15 being able to read and write a short simple statement about their everyday life). While there has been increases year on year, there are still large sections of the population – especially in the rural communities where we work – that remain unable to read. 

Coming from families where literacy and the value of education is low presents one of the most significant barriers to impoverished students. Our monthly Reading Days at KVLC promote the joy and value of reading, engaging students as well as their parents with colorful, fun activities that include book sharings, reading competitions & competitions, spelling bees, arts and crafts – and plenty of time to just sit and read a favorite book with friends and family. 


Initiatives aimed at the primary level, such as our Top Reader award, are having a hugely positive impact on book borrowing. Thanks to our dedicated librarians, such as Chenda at KVLC, we are also seeing a promising improvement in boys’ engagement with libraries. 

Now we are turning our attention to the middle and high school grades, and a large part of this focus comes with the new library that we are installing at Chey.

The primary school there already has a children’s library for the kids up to Grade 6 (which we support with a contribution towards new books every year), so this new addition is specifically for the many older students who still come to the school for our extracurricular computer and English classes. Up until now the nearest library serving their grades has been at our Urban Learning Center in Siem Reap, a 20-minute drive for them. This dedicated library brings essential learning resources to their doorstep, tailored specifically to their grades.

The library is also a key program piece that fleshes Chey out to be a full PLF Learning Center. Leading the way is our librarian Yary, who has come up through the project there, and has been trained by our library team, getting to know the different inventories and resources, purchasing books and issuing library cards – in preparation for the upcoming launch!


We are also thrilled to have recently extended library access to students from our Chreav food bank program, who are the newest community to come into the PLF fold.

What began as an emergency humanitarian response during Covid has since been brought into alignment with our mission, exchanging food relief with a commitment from the families to send their children to school. Last year we began providing school supplies, uniforms and bicycles; and enrollment at our library in Siem Reap is the next step to bringing them further into our program offerings.

We invited students and their families to a special event at ULC so they could explore the library and enrol for their borrowing cards, and hear other PLF students share about the benefits of reading. 

“If we want to improve our learning then we should read books because it helps with our writing, learning new words, and giving ideas for essays. Books are like plants or flowers, they need water to support life, as the same way that we need knowledge to improve our education.”

PLF Urban student, Grade 7


Here’s just some of the impact that our libraries are helping to create:

“I’m 7 years old. I started my reading habit in Grade 2 with the community library in Knar village and I borrowed the books to read at home. I like to read short stories and books with big pictures and large text on them. The books that I like the most are “Pig and Skink & Giant Caterpillar and Lizard” because short stories are funny and also educational. For me reading is very important because it provides us with reading and writing skills, makes the brain smarter, good habits and discipline. For school, it help me know how to read the text and do exercises and dictation. I become a good model and can help other friends in my class. And reading is beneficial to my life beccause I get a good relationship with my family when I read to them and be able to teach my siblings good habits.”

“I am studying in G11 at Srayang high school. I like reading story books. Reading books helps with my essay writing and gives a lot of advantages to my study. It can also help me to think more clearly about the things around me, it enables me to talk to the public and answer the questions bravely plus it makes me happy. 

Reading books can benefit people’s everyday lives, by giving knowledge to society and a lot of people can know a lot of things around them. This can help develop the community and the society can live in peace with no domestic violence and reduce crimes.”

“I always listen to my child’s reading. Then I know when they get the wrong way, the wrong pronunciation, the wrong words, I can correct them. Also, when I listen to my child read, it makes me more patient and more motivated. My son is in Grade 6 and my daughter is younger. I read with them both. I am always trying to find ways for my children to learn, so I support them as much as possible so their life is not so difficult like me.

My daughter is still very young, but she loves reading with her brother very much. When he first came to the library, she always followed him and tried to read all together. When she finished reading, she tried to return back and then borrow a new one and read and return to take more. Maybe she wants to get the Top Reader certificate!

Since my son got the library card and can also borrow a book to read at home, he changed a lot. The biggest is he stopped to play on his phone, when he come back from school, he spend every day a bit of time to read. He changed a lot. Before he used to be a bit naughty but now he has turned to a good boy. Reading is better than phone because it gives a lot more education. With books, you can go more far than with phone.”

With all these hungry book worms, we need a steady stream of new titles coming in to our libraries! If you would like to contribute, you can help ensure we continue to provide life-changing resources to students and their families! 

Donate to our Reading Rocks campaign

Or consider Becoming a Recurring Supporter

For as little as $10 a month, you could contribute to the ongoing education of our students. $120 goes a long way in Cambodia: that’s 5 village children on the road to education, with access to school and clean drinking water for half a year. Or a million other things, all of which coalesce into the tools needed for life to change for the better!

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