past updates .....    
  August 2010
Thank you all so much for book donations to date!!  Our bin at BFA warehouse is full and we cannot add to it until 3 months before we are ready to ship again.  At this time, we can only accept monetary donations toward the shipping costs and when we get near the goal ($13,000) we will start taking book donations again at the Atlanta warehouse.  Thanks for your interest and support!

Container update:
It left the Atlanta warehouse on 23 June and headed to Savannah and on toward South Africa.  It is presently at sea but is expected to arrive in Durban, South Africa on 18 August which is Wednesday this week!   I have hired Advance Freight Services of Gaborone to assist with the clearances.

After it arrives on land, we can expect another update on the ETA in Botswana.  At this time, we are still being told ETA of 15 September. But I wont be surprised if it comes earlier.

The container, as some of you know, is filled with books on 6 themes:
Medical Books
Health & Wellness
Teen fiction
Conservation & Ecology
Children's Picture Books
General Library (everything you might find on library shelves)

We have a designated list of Botswana recipients where we have identified a responsible contact person (a mix of schools, hospitals and charities). We also have a strong representation of Peace Corps volunteers who will assist in the book sorting and will return to their Botswana Schools loaded with books.  We will also be making book donations to the Pediatric Wards throughout the country so the children can look at books during their stay. 

The container will be delivered to Baobab School in Gaborone which has graciously offered the use of its meeting hall and its staff support. Christine Lotibile, Head, has organized her staff to make signage for the event.

I have organized the hiring of casual labor to unload the container in the 4 hours which are allowed by the shipping company.  Chris Sharp of Rotary Club of Gaborone is organizing a loan of book hand trucks. 

We will be sending updates every week we have news.  As soon as we have a true ETA in Gaborone, we will send out our request for volunteers to help sort the books and box them for the recipients. I've been in Gaborone for a week now and will be here throughout ...

July 2010

Many thanks to everyone for the donations of books and shipping cash that made it possible for The Book Project to send the latest container.  It was heartwarming to see the outpouring of generosity from Americans from all walks of life!

 The container, fully loaded,  left the Books for Africa warehouse in Atlanta, Georgia on 23rd of June.  The BFA warehouse staff pulled hard to get the last pounds loaded and it was a testament to their dedication that the shipment left on schedule… Thanks, Brad, Deb and Gang!

 I’ve heard from the shipping agents and it sounds like the container ship will come to port in Durban, South Africa on 18 August.  From there, the 40 foot container full of  books, will be shipped by truck to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, and near the border to SA.  The shipping company has agreed to deliver direct to Baobab School in Gaborone and we are still waiting for confirmation on ETA at Baobab.  So far, it is still listed as 15 September.

 We have close to 50 designated recipients throughout the country (schools, orphanages, afterschool care, hospitals, clinics…) and I expect to enroll more when I arrive in Gaborone in August.

 While I am still dedicating energy to this 2010 shipment, I have been aware that donations are already coming in for the 2011 shipment!  More on that shortly…

 Keep posted for updates and photos of the container crew unloading at Baobab!


May 2010 Update

The MORE magazine article, featuring Pam as founder of Botswana Book Project, resulted in an outpouring of support, both financial and book donations.   The financial donations enabled the Project to cover the shipping costs from the Atlanta Warehouse to Gaborone, Botswana!!  Readers donated a total of $6,000 toward this container, which will depart Atlanta, GA in June and hopefully arrive in Botswana in late August. 

Thank you again to those whose generosity made this shipment possible!  Thank you to Baobab School in Gaborone for offering the use of your school hall for the unloading, sorting and distribution of the books in this shipment.  In having a Gaborone destination, we were able to cut the shipping costs significantly, which enabled us to depart the USA on schedule in June.

Once we realized that the container was secured, the subject of filling the container with 25,000+ books on our theme, became the issue.  Donations from readers (and authors!) began to arrive in the Atlanta shipping Warehouse (Books for Africa).

Books For Africa warehouse in Atlanta

Pam organized a book donation table at the Congregational Church in San Mateo, CA and received many relevant book donations.  Pam also visited area libraries requesting donations. 

Congregational Church of San Mateo collecting books

Burlingame Library Foundation was especially generous to the Project, in offering ten cartons of books on our theme. 

The California book donations (29 boxes total) were boxed and labeled by Pam and Hind Dafa, with encouragement from Pam’s father, Allen Shelton, a longtime supporter of the Project. 

Allen Shelton and Hind Dafa packing books

On 2 May, Pam flew to Atlanta, to spend 2 days in the BFA warehouse, volunteering her services in selecting books on the theme from the thousands of donated books available on the warehouse shelves.  

Volunteers at the Atlanta warehouse  packing books...      volunteer Barbara Mayfield                    

 Pam was assisted with the job of boxing books and moving the boxes onto wooden pallets, by many local Atlanta volunteers.  In two days, they loaded and shrink wrapped 2 full pallets and 2 partial pallets. (each pallet holds approx 50 boxes) The California shipment had not yet arrived but when it does, it will be added to a partial pallet.

 The container will hold 20 pallets total, so Pam knew that was just the start!

 Choosing books, one by one, to fit a theme is hard work and very labor intensive, but Pam believes it will be well worth the extra effort when Botswana is significantly seeded with small Health Libraries and Reading circles.

 From Atlanta, Pam flew to Vermont to visit her American hometown, Shelburne.  The Shelburne News had agreed to sponsor a book donation drive on 8 & 9 of May.  

Shelburne Vermont  Book Drive and young  volunteer donating books

The Shelburne Community and area friends rallied quickly and the donations poured in and after 3 days of boxing and labeling, Pam and volunteers delivered 100 boxes to the Post Office to be sent to the Atlanta warehouse.   This effort was only possible due to the generosity of Holly Bartlett, owner of Windridge Publishing, who covered the cost of shipping the boxes to Atlanta. Thank you, Holly!


April 2010 Update

In March and April, Pam was busy in Botswana.  She drove the length of the country in her CAMEL (Landcruiser vehicle) in two days to arrive at Bana ba Metsi School, located east of Shakawe village, in time to get ready for the school’s 10 year Anniversary celebration.  Pam is on the School Board of this extraordinary school, founded and directed by an American, Steve Harpt, which offers over 50 juvenile delinquent boys an opportunity to reverse their life direction.  Steve emphasizes job skill training as well as basic academic classroom work, with the goal for students to obtain their Primary School Certificate and become productive citizens.   Visit their website

Pam, and other board members, assisted the school staff and the boys in tidying up the “campus”, painting a school welcome sign, and holding the semi annual Board Meeting.

The celebration, attended by supporters from all over the country as well as many local villagers, was a complete success.  His Excellency, Mr. Ian Khama, the school patron, arrived by helicopter, and after a tour of the campus, he joined in for a day of speeches, songs, dance and a terrific luncheon.   

Students painting the welcome sign                Cleaning up                            taking a break!                      

Fixing lunch                     Steve Harpt with President Khama, patron of BanaBaMetsi

Board members conferring                traditional dancers                  student speakers          

Senior dancer                           Boys with their new soccer shoes


Pam also spent a week in Maun village, holding a week of book selection for area schools and homes. Pam displayed the books remaining from the previous container delivery in 2008.  Over 500 people selected books, with some Mochudi area schools driving over 8 hours to make their selection.  Peace Corps volunteers, representing various schools and projects throughout Botswana, also spent several days gathering books. 

    moving the books to the hall       Volunteer Chris McDonald helping children choose a book     Pam with  volunteers

happy book lovers

                Peace Corps teachers choosing books          .....and Matswane school students

Preschooler with new books...... and more happy readers

Secondary students and teachers choose books


A visit to Stepping Stones International, founded by American Lisa Jamu, was a highlight for Pam.  This stellar program of afterschool counseling and care for vulnerable or orphaned teens in the Mochudi area, had agreed to conduct a Pilot Reading Circle for the Book Project.  Last June, Pam had delivered to them (that extra 50 lb. suitcase allowed by the airline was stuffed with books!) an annotated booklist and the accompanying teen novels that Pam had selected off of “Best Books for Teens” lists after having purchased and proofread them herself.  The Stepping Stones Pilot project began with each girl selecting a book to read and share.  They found the assignment was daunting, with unfamiliar vocabulary and many “Americanisms”.  They changed their plan, selected Who Am I Without Him? By Sharon Flake and sat on chairs in a tight circle with their counselor.  Each reader read two pages, stopping to discuss between readers…they wrote unfamiliar vocabulary on cards and after the readings, they used a dictionary to write the meaning of each word on the back of the cards. This April, their counselor shared with Pam her delight in how the Reading Circle girls were sharing insights into their own lives after they discussed as a group the book characters and the issues presented throughout the novel.  PERFECT!! 

Pam at Stepping Stones International discussing Reading Circles

The Reading Circle and its success, sets the stage for the development of Reading Circles in Secondary Schools throughout Botswana.  Many of the Peace Corps volunteers are eagerly awaiting the teen novels, which are part of the book shipment we are presently packing in Atlanta.  They intend to begin Reading Circles in the schools where they have been assigned.

March 2010
The March issue of MORE magazine has a 3 page article titled "Book Farmer of Botswana" featuring Pam's work in Botswana. The reader response has resulted in a commitment for a 13th Shipment to be sent to Botswana in June. The THEME is Health, Wellness and Respectful Relationship and cash donations are being gratefully accepted from now until May 15th.

February 2010

The past 6 months have included many productive conversations with Peace Corps members who are placed in villages throughout Botswana.  Their mission is, in part, to assist  Secondary School students in developing respectful relationships and having expectations for successful lives.  They are keen for support materials and most would like to begin reading groups….

Teachers celebrate Botswana Book Project..........Young reader enjoying a book........ shoes left outside classroom.....

I’ve also been in touch with various Health Care workers, Teen Counseling Leaders, Teachers and Child Welfare Advocates throughout the country.  We all agree the theme of the next shipment of books and materials should be Health, Wellness and Respectful Relationships….

Here are some examples of the kind of books we are looking for:
Novels which could be used for reading groups:
Any Chicken Soup books
Teen Novels by Sharon Flake (like Who am I Without Him? or Begging for Change)
Teen novels by Sharon Draper (like Copper Sun or Romiette and Julio)
Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
The Secret Language of Girls by Francis Dowell
No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Stop Pretending by Sonya Sones
Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza
The Beast by Walter Dean Myers
Crystal by Walter Dean Myers
Shabanu by Suzanne Staples
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Purple Hibiscus by Chimanda Adichie
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
If We Kiss by Rachel Vail
You, Maybe by Rachel Vail
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Red Tent by Anita Diamante
Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Wave Rider by Witi Ihimaera
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Examples of books on Wellness and Health:

Books about pregnancy and childrearing
The Period Book by Karen Gravelle
What's Going on Down There (boys) by Karen Gravelle
Questions kids ask about sex, honest answers for every age by Melissa Cox
What’s the big secret? Talking about sex with boys and girls by Laurie Brown
Happy to be me! a kid book about self-esteem (Elf-Help books for kids) by Christine Adams


The Stepping Stones Program for vulnerable teens in Mochudi, Botswana has agreed to Botswana Book Project setting up a distribution point for this shipment.  We hope to be able to collect books from April through May and be ready to ship out by June.
A class being held outside..... ..........a typical primary school design........... children in a primary school library


July 2009

May/June was an exciting time for the Project! Pam Shelton, Director, drove the length of the country spreading the message about the importance of reading and the value of a good book… For a long week in May, thousands of donated books were displayed at Maun Senior Secondary School while local schools browsed for hours selecting books to add to their libraries.
Unpacking books........ book selection day!

It was a time for booklovers, old and new, young and old, to meet and discuss their favorite titles. Pam met hundreds of keen student readers as they made repeat visits to the selection hall between their classes at Maun Senior Secondary School.
a Maun Senior Secondary School student at book selection

Ma O B Seretse, former Director of Maun Education Centre,
choosing a book

Every morning at dawn, after Pam gets the workmen started moving boxes and setting up for the day, she rushes out to buy the helpers some breakfast Fatcakes (dough balls cooked in oil) from a lady who is cooking and selling Fatcakes as a way to support her children and pay their school fees. For the week of book selection, Pam probably buys enough cakes to pay for a school uniform!

Local primary school book lovers ….

And Bana ba Pheto Preschool always comes to choose books..…

And in record numbers, a continuous stream of local adult readers came to choose books to create their own home libraries…What a great model for their children!

Ndintini Tatson helps an adult reader with her book selection


Pam also toured Baobab Primary School in Gaborone where she met the second grade class, who have been part of the BBP Sister School Program and have been corresponding with an American classroom.

Baobab Primary School- note bookbags hanging outside of classrooms!

Parents are encouraged to choose books to read to their children

Computer lab and library at Baobab Primary School

Pam also spent a morning at Leshibitse village, meeting with the library committee and helping to unpack the first donation of books from Botswana Book Project. Leshibitse is in a very rural area in Southeastern Botswana and the residents have no access to library books. The Development Committee decided that building a village community library would be their 2008 priority.
When they contacted Pam, they had a beautiful new building with empty shelves. They were delighted with the donation and look forward to reading!

Phiri Moses Diswai, Member of Village Development Committee
discusses the Library project with Pam Shelton

Leshibitse Committee members meet with Pam

The new library building....... and committee members choosing books


Planning Session for future "Respectful Relationship" Reading Groups .....

One of the most important things Pam accomplished in May & June were planning sessions for the future, conducted throughout the country. Pam gathered together key people who were committed to a brighter future for Botswana youth. They agreed that they wanted to promote respectful and healthy relationships among the roughly 50% of the population who are under 21 years. They plan to organize reading groups in various secondary schools in which the teen students read and discuss select novels featuring teens.

As a start, Pam brought a suitcase from the USA packed with novels featuring global teen role models coping (or not coping) with universal issues such as friendships, romance, gender and health. The novels were recommendations from American Library Association and other reputable organizations and were each "test read" by Pam prior to inclusion.The novels were given to Stepping Stones International, a program for adolescents orphans and vulnerable children living in Mochudi.

The Stepping Stones Afterschool Program for Teens In Need agreed to pilot a BBP Reading Power Program for Teens. The Mochudi teens will respond shortly with their reviews of these novels, which Pam plans to use in a Reading Power for Teens Project all over Botswana. In addition, BBP plans to send a container of book donations specifically pertaining to Health, sexuality, childbirth and reproduction in 2010. Knowledge is life.

Pam hopes to seed the country with these donated books and increase awareness through education.

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February 2009

Botswana Book Project has recently connected classrooms in USA with classrooms in Botswana., beginning with Baker Demonstration School second grade in Wilmette, Illinois with Baobab School standard three in Gaborone, Botswana. The connection began with an email exchange of class photos and introductions, and has progressed to discussing Valentines Day, schedules and logistics. Students will be writing messages shortly! Stay tuned for Updates from these new Sister Schools.

Baker Demonstration School in Illinois and Baobab School in Botswana


October 2008
Pam returned to Botswana for a month to organize the container arrival. It turned out to be a real test of endurance as paperwork and extra fees seemed to multiply every day. Finally the red tape was cleared and the twelth container arrived in time for the scheduled book distribution as advertised to the many schools in the area. During one of the hottest months of the year (temperatures in excess of 120 degrees) school representatives arrived at Maun Senior Secondary school gymnasium to make their selections. The theme of "Reading for Pleasure" was a great success! Over 15,000 books were distributed.


September 2008
In July and August, Pam conducted Book Drives in San Mateo, California. The Congregational Church of San Mateo, the Peninsula REGENT and the Kiwanis Club of San Mateo donated books, as well as many residents of San Mateo. Pam's slide presentation was a huge success, introducing many Americans to the book famine in Africa.
The fully packed container left the Books For Africa warehouse in Minnesota in July and should be arriving in Durban by the end of September. From there, it is shipped by truck, using various companies, across the border at Gaborone and then north to Maun.
Pam will be at hand to personally sign for the container in Maun, and with the help of her faithful work crew, the books will be unloaded into a storeroom in anticipation of the official Book Selection Week, 20-25 October at Maun Senior Secondary School.
Stay tuned for an October Update!


April 2008

Pam is now back in the US and gathering books for another container at Books For Africa. She is doing book drives and project pesentations across the country, and hopes to have a full container by the end of June, which could then be shipped, to arrive in Botswana by August. Stay tuned.....

photo  photo
Pam with Giselle Lechan of the Vergennes Post Office in Vermont. The Vergennes community generously donated over 1,700 books to be added to the container in Minnesota. "Thank you, Vergennes Community!"

cub scouts
The Cub Scout Den #36 from North River, New York collected over 1,000 like new books and, after a presentation by Pam, the books were posted to Minnesota. "Thank you, North River!"


Jan- March 2008
Pam has been traveling throughout North West Africa. She always finds children to interact with and share books with. These photos are from Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, and Senegal.

...........Pam with Nigerian street booklover in Nigeria... shy bookworm in Benin

School in Ghana which received books from Pam.... American teacher Taylor Whitfield with globe from Pam

kids mali    
Street kids in Mali look at a book ....Senegalese goatherd with book from Pam


Pam has declared the theme for 2008, "Reading for Pleasure".  She has been busy organizing a shipment of pleasure reading best seller paperbacks through Books For Africa in Minnesota.   In her previous shipments, Pam requested textbooks for all age groups as well as reading books. Most schools in the country have received textbooks and now Pam feels it is time to narrow the focus and emphasis reading for relaxation rather than just for information.

Although Pam is presently touring by vehicle through North Africa, (follow her progress at she will be arriving in USA at the conclusion of the Expedition in late March, to facilitate the collection of best sellers.   Books For Africa will ship in early July and Pam will be home in Botswana to receive the shipment. 

Arrangements have been made with various Botswana secondary schools for Pam to model "Booktalking" so as to acquaint students (and staff) with bestselling authors and titles from the United States. Most American authors and titles are unfamiliar to potential readers so it's important to introduce the bestseller titles. Pam's history as a librarian and a lifelong bookworm of note enables her to "talk" hundreds of titles. She has created Booktalk Lists with brief annotations that are printed for every student so they can refer to it after the talk when they go to the shelves to select. This modeling activity was highly successful at Maun Senior Secondary School and many new bookworms were created.  
Pam believes it is time to bring other schools in Botswana into that loop and make booktalks a part of every student's library experience.



Nov 2007 The eleventh container of books arrived. These were distributed to schools throughout Botswana, including schools in the southern districts, who travelled the length of Botswana to participate in the book selection. The remaining books are displayed outside of grocery stores with the hope that more people will choose a few books to call their own. "A book in every hut" is becoming a reality!

book sale

Dec 2007 Pam, who is a Board Member of Bana Ba Metsi School, was on hand to assist at their annual Christmas Party for local orphaned children. Pam donated 100 books, wrapped in Christmas paper, for the children. Some of these children have never owned anything in their life, so the books were very special gifts.

boy with book 2 boys with books boy with book


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