About iRead

The concept of a mobile library could seem archaic to some especially in our digital age of Wi-Fi, eBooks and iPads. After all, you could probably download all the books contained within a mobile library before it has had time to heave itself out of its parking space.
The Genesis of iRead Mobile Library started in 2003, when Funmi Ilori attended a Daystar leadership academy where she was challenged to ‘start her dream project with what she had’. She had a strong urge to influence children and adults within her community by venturing into a door to door delivery of books for rentals. Although she set aside the project to pursue a career in teaching, she picked it up again when the opportunity showed up 10 years later. Her dream is to innovate the largest network of libraries for children in Africa.

iRead Mobile Library model is designed to provide essential reading materials to children at communities across Africa. We are currently serving children within Lagos metropolis, Urban slums and neighbouring rural communities in South-West Nigeria, in order to attain educational excellence, improve skills and provide information for pleasure, personal and national development.

As the first children educational mobile library in Nigeria, our social business model is transforming lives through literacy services to children, youths and women.  The number of Nigerian children lacking basic skills in the areas of literacy, numeracy and digital literacy is substantial because most African children lack access to convenient public libraries that can provide solutions to reading challenges or enhance the culture. Our goal is to reform the reading culture and improve skills through lifelong learning using the mobile libraries (books on wheels) to ease access for essential reading materials to children at different communities within and outside the metropolis.

With a focus on making educational resources and learning materials available and accessible in order to enhance the culture of reading and promote literacy among the populace, we are currently setting up community libraries and e-libraries for children in underserved schools and communities. Our model is bridging the gap by engaging children in ICT, literacy, etiquette, world facts, cultural heritage and more.

iRead provides the missing link by removing barriers to having convenient mobile library on demand without clients having to travel miles to access the educational resource material they need either for after-school assignment, research in special interests, sciences and parental guidance for children. In our first year, we operated a single unit, fully stocked iRead van with select book, audio, video and information resources for kids and teens of ages 3 to 19. Now in our third year, we operate four fully stocked mobile libraries and an online library underway.

iRead mobile library service began in September 2013 and our bookmobile was purchased with a grant from The Federal Government of Nigeria’s YOUWiN programme. In September 2014, another space bus bookmobile was purchased to cater for the pressing demands of the parents for their children.

The vans are modelled into a “kidsmobile” for children’s programming and storytelling and equipped with shelves and “steps in a drawer” that is pulled out from under the truck.

The library visits children in their schools and communities once every week and the result shows that children are becoming avid readers. Each child is given a library review book where they record weekly- book title, name of author, setting, why they like or do not like the book, summary of the book and at least 6 new words learnt.

The visit of the mobile library also includes a 35-minute interactive program designed to spark conversation, discussion and fun, plus access to library materials for borrowing.

Our topic of discuss by seasoned staff and volunteers; is usually tied to a termly theme which varies from financial intelligence to poise & etiquette, leadership, climate change issues and more.

The mobile libraries presently serves 21 schools, 19 neighborhoods, and 1 special needs facility giving a total of 41 stops. With an additional grant award from United States African Development Foundation (USADF), we are increasing our services to reaching 5,000 un-schooled children. iRead mobile library typically carries between 1,500 to 2500 books per time. Over half of the stock is children fictions, while the rest are made up of popular non-fiction, such as sports, gardening and cookery.

Reading has definitely been a thread throughout my life, which I saw with my parents and how they helped me and my siblings achieve success through books. They were and are models to me of loving, giving and reading people.

Growing up seeing the damaging and value-eroding educational system in my country and the lack of literacy programs available for children within my immediate and neighbouring communities, my goal was to bridge the literacy gap by innovating the largest library on wheels in Africa. I provide shelter (with the aid of my mobile library truck) to help children tackle their reading challenges.

I raise awareness on the importance of a healthy reading culture and communicate same to parents within my community. During spring and summer, we organise series of camping programs to teach children ICT, literacy, etiquette, cultural heritage and literacy enhancement. We are also leading countless children to ‘go green’ by empowering them with practical knowledge of climate change, renewable energy and how they can save the planet.

Over the years, I have learned that reading helps me to know about how you treat people, and that includes how you listen, serve, help, and even build together with others. I did have a pivotal moment at an early age when this idea of reading became embedded in my life. Not only can I read, but I also have much to learn from people all over the world through their writings. Truly, those who read, lead.

With a social mission central to our business objectives, I strive to create change and solve educational problems. Our institution, Funmivirtuous Educational Consult Limited, helps teachers to develop the analytical tools that support social action and nurture creativity in children.

Our children are told that they can change the world, but the tools that exist to help aid them in their crusade to make an impact are limited and scarce.

I know without doubt that through my social entrepreneurship education, I will not only impact the lives of teachers and children, I will impact the society at large by tackling educational problems and improving outcomes for millions of families in Africa.

Compassion and empathy, coupled with the current state of inequities, has stimulated the need for me to take action in the education sector.