Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy

Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy

by John Wood


$16.52 $17.00 Save 3% Current price is $16.52, Original price is $17. You Save 3%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, October 18


The inspirational story of a former Microsoft executive’s quest to build libraries around the world and share the love of books

What’s happened since John Wood left Microsoft to change the world? Just ask six million kids in the poorest regions of Asia and Africa. In 1999, at the age of thirty-five, Wood quit a lucrative career to found the nonprofit Room to Read. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “the Andrew Carnegie of the developing world,” he strived to bring the lessons of the corporate world to the nonprofit sector—and succeeded spectacularly.

In his acclaimed first book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, Wood explained his vision and the story of his start-up. Now, he tackles the organization’s next steps and its latest challenges—from managing expansion to raising money in a collapsing economy to publishing books for children who literally have no books in their native language. At its heart, Creating Room to Read shares moving stories of the people Room to Read works to help: impoverished children whose schools and villages have been swept away by war or natural disaster and girls whose educations would otherwise be ignored.

People at the highest levels of finance, government, and philanthropy will embrace the opportunity to learn Wood’s inspiring business model and blueprint for doing good. And general readers will love Creating Room to Read for its spellbinding story of one man’s mission to put books within every child’s reach.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142180501
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/2014
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,165,095
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Wood worked for Microsoft for nine years, helping grow the company’s international profile. He resigned at thirty-five and founded Room to Read, which is widely regarded as one of the world’s top nonprofit organizations. He documented his decision and the creation of Room to Read in his memoir, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. He lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ten Years, Ten Thousand Libraries! 1

Chapter 1 Bold Goals Attract Bold People 10

Chapter 2 A Kilogram of Gold 17

Chapter 3 The Lottery of Life 25

Chapter 4 Blame It on Bahundanda 34

Chapter 5 Helping Others Help Themselves: The Challenge-Grant Model 43

Chapter 6 GSD: Building a World-Class Team 54

Chapter 7 The Tsunami: One Year After 67

Chapter 8 "No Range Rovers": The War on Overhead 76

Chapter 9 Searching for Seuss 88

Chapter 10 -Baby Fish Goes to School 99

Chapter 11 Sleepless in Siem Reap 109

Chapter 12 "I Was in Grade Two When Our School Was Burned Down" 120

Chapter 13 "Sony, but Your Money Has Disappeared" 129

Chapter 14 "We Picked Up the Phone to Call for Help" 141

Chapter 15 Nine Books Last Night 154

Chapter 16 On Her Narrow Shoulders Rest a Family's Dreams 163

Chapter 17 Mr. X 174

Chapter 18 Now Departing for Cambodia: Literacy One 182

Chapter 19 Frantic Footsteps in the Night 195

Chapter 20 The World's Tallest Fund-raising Thermometer 203

Chapter 21 Whose Version of the Future Will Win? 217

Chapter 22 Boat to Read 228

Chapter 23 "If You Cannot Read, School Can Be a Torture" 240

Chapter 24 "Three Completely Pregnant Cows" 250

Chapter 25 Mr. Poet and Miss Library 260

Author's Note 273

Acknowledgments 275

Index 281

A Message from the Author: How You Can Change the World 289

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“[John Wood’s] extraordinary enthusiasm [and] boldness…come through clearly. His legacy of libraries is one of which another role model – Andrew Carnegie – would no doubt have been proud, especially since Wood began with nothing like the same personal fortune.”
Financial Times

“Room to Read will show people they do not need to accept the forces of darkness….May the larger, smarter, more compassionate team win. I know which side will get my investment.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“John Wood is building a global movement around literacy and gender equality. Creating Room to Read offers a blueprint for transforming lives…and eventually the world.”
—Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook and author of Lean In

“A refreshing reminder of the power of libraries—their ability to transform individual lives and strengthen communities.”
—Melinda Gates

“An absorbing personal account of a remarkable achievement.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Wood’s passion for literacy and education infuses every page. An inspiring read on the power of books.”

"Just think what would happen if a couple hundred people followed his example."
—President Bill Clinton

"One of the legendary triumphs of philanthropy was Andrew Carnegie's construction of more than 2,500 libraries. Numerically, it has already been surpassed several times over by an American man you've probably never heard of. Wood is tireless, enthusiastic and emotional: a motivational speaker with no off button."
—Nick Kristof

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Christanyc More than 1 year ago
Ten years go, John Wood embarked on a courageous journey. He left his job at Microsoft for one simple reason: so that "children everywhere have access to literacy and books in their mother tongue from a young age." Sound audacious to you? It did to Charlie Rose as well. "Every child," Charlie repeated in an interview with John. "Every one, without exception," John said. It is that kind of resolve, focus, and elegant vision that I find so exhilarating and inspiring. As a nonprofit founder, fundraiser, and a consultant who works with a number of nonprofits, I also know how hard it is to identify and maintain. John will not be deterred. It is his commitment to the children of this world that has allowed Room to Read, his nonprofit, to open 10,000 libraries around the world in 10 years. 10,000. It is astonishing. In 2007, John wrote the book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children. Today, his new book, Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy, goes on sale. It has valuable information for everyone who has ever cared about a cause or mission, for-profit, non-profit, or otherwise. It's a story about the value of a dream and the determination to make it real. John talks about his all-star team, their site evaluation process, and what it truly means to work side-by-side with people you want to help in pursuit of a common goal. In equal parts, he gets down into the details about his fundraising and management philosophies and then shares his powerful emotions such as his misty-eyed moment when the 10,000th library opened in Nepal with his parents by his side. John's story is inspiring for all of the goodness he conveys though he is not shy about the hardships he, his staff, and the communities face. Global literacy is a battle in every sense. Moving into Africa was a particularly harrowing decision and an even more harrowing process. His team literally risked their lives to make it happen. In countries like Cambodia, 43% of grade-three students in his country could not read at an age-appropriate level. Statistics like this led Room to Read's mission and activities to evolve. It wasn't enough to build libraries and furnish them with books. First, they had to teach people to read. Without literacy programs, the libraries would be of zero value to half the population. Once I cracked open this book, I couldn't put it down. Nose pressed against the pages, I would look up and realize that hours had gone by. After a while, I stopped using my highlighter because I was highlighting every sentence. John Wood and Room to Read are paving the way toward a brighter future. Thank goodness he left Microsoft to change the world. With this book, I'm certain he will inspire many people to take up a cause that matters and make it their life's work. And we will all be better off for it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AR2649 More than 1 year ago
An interesting and inspiring infomercial.  Make sure to read his first book, and come back to this one if you have the time.
Sister-P More than 1 year ago
"Creating Room To Read" chronicles John Wood's journey with Room to Read. He shares his life and the stories of various children. He also shares his vision and desire for every child to be able to read and have books. Thus, promoting global literacy. I am inspired by his heart, devotion and sacrifice. I truly believe he and his team at Room To Read are doing an amazing job in changing the lives of so many children worldwide. "Creating Room To Read" will motivate you to want to make a difference. I challenge you to read this book, it is life changing. In conclusion, I want to thank Viking Penguin for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review.