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Image from the story Conduct An Historical Comparison

Target Grade Levels:
Grades 7-12

The Activity
Video Discussion Questions
Taking It Further
Connections to Curriculum Standards

The Activity

Show students where Nepal is on a map. Explain that in Nepal, a third of the population lives below the poverty line and many children do not have access to a good education. Tell the class that you are going to show them how one man acted to help fill some of Nepalís education gaps. Then play Nepal: A Girlís Life (length: 15:03), using the Video Discussion Questions below to focus student viewing.

John Wood, the founder of Room to Read, told the reporter for this story that he wants to "out-Carnegie Carnegie," meaning that he wants to open more libraries and have a bigger impact on education than Andrew Carnegie, one of the world's leading philanthropists and a special patron of public libraries. Have students research the work of Room to Read and Andrew Carnegie to determine how their efforts compare. Students should complete a Venn diagram to organize, compare, and contrast information about their motivations to open libraries, business backgrounds, the numbers of libraries opened, sources of funding, community requirements for receiving a library, and other pertinent details.

In addition to student notes from the Video Discussion Questions, the following Web sites may be helpful information resources:

Interview with John Wood Room to Read founder John Wood talks about the challenges of creating a successful nonprofit and how his days at Microsoft helped prepare him.

Why Books and Libraries? The Room to Read Web site explains why the organization focuses so heavily on establishing libraries.

Philanthropy 101: A Library of Your Own This Web site from PBSís The American Experience series describes Carnegieís commitment to building public libraries.

Setting the Stage This article from the National Park Service provides historical context for the development of public libraries in the U.S.

Wikipedia: Carnegie Library This Wikipedia entry outlines Carnegieís belief in self-improvement through learning, how communities went about applying for a Carnegie library, and provides statistics on the locations of U.S. Carnegie libraries in 1920.

Discuss student findings. Do students think that Carnegie or Room to Read has been more successful? Why? How might the historical context of these efforts influence their success?

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Video Discussion Questions

Focus student viewing of Nepal: A Girl’s Life (length: 15:03) with the following questions:

  • What experience inspired John Wood to begin Room to Read?
  • What goals does Wood have for Room to Read?
  • Why do you think Sabina and her brother were so interested in the book that the reporter brought them?
  • List what Room to Read does in Nepal to promote education.
  • What must a community contribute in order to bring a school to their community? Do you think it is right for Room to Read to require community involvement? Why or why not?
  • Why does Wood think it is so important for girls to become educated?


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Taking it Further

Get involved with the efforts of Room to Read to boost literacy in developing countries. The Take Action! section of the Room to Read Web site provides materials and ideas to help students, schools, and clubs make a difference.

Connections to Curriculum Standards

These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge, a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning).

Business Education, Standard 15:
Knows unique characteristics of an entrepreneur.
Level IV, Benchmark 2: Knows that entrepreneurship relates to the capacity to take responsibility for one’s own future, to initiate creative ideas, develop them, and to carry them through into action in a determined manner.

Geography, Standard 11:
Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface.

Language Arts, Standard 9:
Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.

Life Work, Standard 8:
Operates effectively within organizations.
Level IV, Benchmark 2: Understands the extent to which organizational values are compatible with personal values.

U.S. History, Standard 17:
Understands massive immigration after 1870 and how new social patterns, conflicts, and ideas of national unity developed amid growing cultural diversity.

World History, Standard 44:
Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world.

Level III, Benchmark 2:
Understands influences on economic development around the world.
World History, Standard 45:
Understands major global trends since World War II.
Level IV, Benchmark 2:
Understands causes of economic imbalances and social inequalities among the world's peoples and efforts made to close these gaps.


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