10 July 2023

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A book published 20 years ago by Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler is starting a new chapter - with children in Ghana.

Copies of 'The Snail and the Whale' have made a special journey from London to the West African country, thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery. Now the book is helping Ghanaian charities and teachers uplift and support resilient children facing challenging situations in the capital, Accra.

Book Aid International revealed Postcode Lottery players have helped get the magical story - about a snail that hitches a ride around the world on a whale's tail - to Ghana. Alison Tweed, CEO of Book Aid International, said, "Our vision is simple - it is a world where everyone has access to books and players are helping make this transformational difference to many lives across the globe."

Copies were donated by Pan Macmillan publishers and were among a special donation of 20,000 books from several publishers to support this year's World Book Capital celebrations in Accra. And Postcode Lottery filmmakers captured the 4,600-mile journey - from a truck in a London warehouse to the harbour in Accra - in a short movie titled 'The Snail and the Whale Goes To Ghana.'

Postcode Lottery ambassador Danyl Johnson helped pack the truck with books before it set off.

'The Snail and the Whale' is now available in the Street Children Empowerment Foundation's (SCEF) library in Jamestown, Accra.

SCEF works to remove children from the street, reunite them with families and help them get back to school.

The charity's CEO Paul Semeh told how the book will have a huge impact on the children's lives.

He said, "The children who come to us are really troubled with no idea how to learn. Our first job as an organization is to help reintegrate them into the community, and our library has been of tremendous help to both the social workers and the children.

"Books such as 'The Snail and the Whale' have helped the children a lot because they can relate to it.

"The book has a lighthouse, just like the one they see in Accra and it's very engaging with resonating pictures that tell the story better.

"We're very glad that this book has taken such a special journey."

Children can also access the book through the Ghana Library Authority's (GLA) mobile library, which last year made 1,148 visits to 150 schools.

Chief Executive of GLA, Hayford Siaw said, "Books like this are vital here. So many families in Accra cannot afford to buy even basic textbooks, so the idea of buying a storybook is just impossible.

"But it's stories like these - with their beautiful pictures and rhyming words - that will really get kids into reading."

He added, "This year our city is the World Book Capital, and we are working to engage more kids in reading.

"This book and the many thousands like it that Book Aid International has sent will really help us do that."

'The Snail and the Whale' is just one of the 478,810 books that Book Aid International has provided to Ghana since 2016.

All the books the charity provides are brand new, donated by UK publishers, and carefully selected for the community they will reach.

The charity supports partners across Ghana and these range from the library authority to small grassroots NGOs.

Book Aid International's West Africa representative Prince Kay-Takrama talked about the importance of books - especially since Accra is this year's World Book Capital.

He said, "These books help teachers teach and learners learn. They fire children's imaginations and help them imagine new possibilities. They are an investment in children's futures.

"That is why we are so committed to giving all children access to beautiful books like this one, and why we are grateful to our book donors and to players of People's Postcode Lottery for their support.

"We extend a special thanks for this very special donation of 20,000 children's books to enrich World Book Capital celebrations."

Players of People's Postcode Lottery have been supporting Book Aid International since 2014 and backed the charity's expansion into Ghana. Players have raised over £1.1 Billion for charities and good causes, and a total of £3.8 Million has gone to Book Aid International.

This year, Book Aid International will send its millionth player-funded book.