Share this article

The International Day of the Girl was started ten years ago by ActionAid, who wanted to celebrate the incredible potential of girls around the world. Today, they want to recognise the progress that has been made for girls’ rights in the last decade, but also highlight how much further there is to go. All around the world girls face challenges based on their age and gender. In many of the world’s poorest places, the odds are stacked against them – especially when factors like ethnicity and disability exacerbate these disadvantages. From being denied an education to be being forced into child marriage, girls are too often denied the chance to live the lives they want.

ActionAid has been supported by Book Aid International, to encourage education for girls, the joy of reading and a glimpse into a different future.

As Her Majesty The Queen Consort is Patron of Book Aid International, they have, on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen Consort’s Reading Room, asked eight girls around the world about the books they love most and why.


Name: Judith Mukengere
Age: 12
Location: Kampala, Uganda
Favourite book: The Old Woman and the Shell by Rose Rwakasisi

Judith has already lost her home in the Democratic Republic of Congo to war. Now, she lives in Kampala, Uganda, and she’s working to catch up on her education. She loves to read both books donated from the UK and books purchased locally through a Book Aid International grant. “I love this book The Old Woman and the Shell. Everyone has a secret and the old woman’s secret was in the shell. It enabled her to become a queen with its magical powers. I relate to this story because I too have a secret. My education will be my secret for success.”

© Jesuit Refugee Service, Uganda


Name: Sonam Yangzom
Age: 12
Location: Punakha, Bhutan
Favourite book: What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday by Julia Donaldson

Sonam is in the 6th grade and at home she helps her mum with chores and caring for her younger siblings. She spends as much time as she can at her local READ centre, and she loves to read: “I have read both the previous Ladybird series by Julia Donaldson. When I saw this book on the shelf, I was very excited. I love the colourful book covers and stories with animal characters. My favourite part of the book is how a small insect like a ladybird can make all the animals to come together to catch the thieves. And I love how cute and adorable the animals are”.

© Read Bhutan


Name: Christelle Igihozo
Age: 10
Location: Rulindo District, Rwanda
Favourite book: Star of the Air by Monica Hughes

Christelle is 10 and lives in rural Rwanda. Many women in her community don’t pursue formal careers – so she has few role models to help her explore options for her future. But she has access to a well-stocked library full of examples of everything that girls can do: “I love this book Star of the Air because it talks about a girl who helps the police catch robbers. It inspires me to consider being a policewoman.”

© The Ineza Foundation


Name: Ruth Nkhata
Age: 13
Location: Nkhotakota, Malawi
Favourite book: Planet Earth by Steven Moss

Pupils like Ruth in rural Malawi rarely get the opportunity to travel and can’t just hop online to look up something she’ll never see, so bringing classroom learning to life can be a challenge for her teachers. That’s why she loves Planet Earth: “We have benefited a lot from these books because some of the books match with our curriculum, thereby improving our class performance. For this reason, my favourite book is Planet Earth. I particularly enjoy reading the chapter on mountains which we also learnt about in class.”

© African Parks


Name: Peace Pendo
Age: 10
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Favourite book: The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl

Peace lives in one of Nairobi’s largest slum communities. She is one of eight girls, and her family struggles to make ends meet – so she relies on her local library to access books and find time to read and study: “I enjoy spending my time at the library reading books and having fun. My favourite book is The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl. I love the book because it teaches that no one should be treated unfairly. I loved how the girl cared for the animals.”

© The Mathare Youth Sports Association


Name: Jennifer Elikem Buabasah
Age: 12
Location: Koforidua, Ghana
Favourite book: Educating Mansa By Readwide Publication

Poverty is still far too common in Jennifer’s community, and girls are often expected to stay at home. But she’s read about what girls can achieve, and she has big plans: “I like this book because it shows that girls should be taken to school so that they can achieve their dreams and become whatever they want. It also tells me that girls are important and therefore encourages me to be a doctor in the future to help my family and the community.”

© Ghana Library Authority


Name: Praise Kadyamkoni
Age: 7
Location: Lower Dedza, Malawi
Favourite book: Little Monkey by Marta Altes

Praise is still too young to be thinking about careers. She reads simply for the joy of it: “My favourite book is Little Monkey because it is wonderful. The monkey is in the jungle!”


Name: Georgette Afia Acheampomaa Asante
Age: 11
Location: Ashanti Region, Ghana
Favourite book: Half a Creature from the Sea by David Almond

Getting an education isn’t always easy for Georgette. She’s has already faced boys who don’t respect her love for reading. The books she loves most help her find the strength to carry on. “I have taken reading as a hobby because I take my education seriously. The boys in my community don’t respect and they are truant, and I don’t want to be like them. In this book things that seemed fixed, hard and hopeless started to shift. It encourages me to know that things will not aways remain the same.”

More online exclusives


What Inspires The Writing Of Bernardine Evaristo

Read more


The Beginnings of Atonement

Read more


The Life And Books Of Élisabeth Gille

Read more


Khaled Hosseini and Afghanistan today

Read more

HM’s childhood favourites:

World Book Day

Read more


The Affair Of The Diamond Necklace

Read more


Elena Ferrante

Read more


Victoria Hislop

Read more