For anyone who thinks one person cannot make a difference, just look at the example of Antonio La Cava. The retired Italian schoolteacher has decided to spend his golden years bringing the joy of reading to his local region in southern Italy.
Feeling that the school system had not done enough to motivate kids to read, La Cava bought a used Ape motorbike in 2003 and rigged it to hold a mobile library. The library has an inventory of more than 1,000 books, up from the original 700 he started with. The entire creation was financed and continues to be supported by La Cava himself.
Every week he travels over 500 kilometers through the villages in Basilicata. His official website Il Bibliomotocarro lists a schedule of weekly stops, but La Cava still announces his arrival with the sound of an organ. La Cava is always greeted by a rush of schoolkids and adults eager to get their hands on a new book.
Bookmobiles have a long history of bringing knowledge to remote villages. One of the earliest bookmobiles can be traced back to 1859 in Warrington, England. Instead of three wheels like the Antonio La Cava bookmobile, the historic versions were often horse-drawn wagons. As public libraries emerged in towns, the bookmobile gradually lost importance.
However, many communities around the world could still benefit from this traveling book lending service. While many are quick to promote the use of technology and how it can allow students to access more content, there’s nothing quite like a physical book for inspiring a love of reading.
With more than 15 years of driving around Basilicata, Antonio La Cava shows how a little creativity can go a long way in inspiring more kids to read.