Note: Check out the St. C’s guide to reading books on Samsungs and other Android cell phones and tablets with Moon+ Reader Pro. The Alice book in the image is free on the Web. Elsewhere we tell how to read free e-books on your Windows phone.

Moon2Screenshot - 4_5_2015 , 6_25_14 PMTraditional book clubs are common in many parts of the world. Students, friends, and neighbors gather together regularly to discuss books at school, the library or in their living rooms. But how about countries such as Zimbabwe, where paper books in many places can be hard to find or expensive?

We have a solution—read electronic books on your cell phone. You can even enjoy a long novel like War and Peace on your phone for free (as long as no copyright restrictions apply).

Here at St Columba’s High School in Bulawayo, teachers and students will be setting up a cell phone book club. Not just for themselves but also to show the usefulness of the idea for others in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa.

We’ll meet in person. And we’ll also use Google+ Video Hangouts to broadcast some of our meetings for viewing anywhere in the world.

Meanwhile we’re working to get phones available for students to read from. At the same time, we’ll welcome their reading from paper books, Kindle-style devices and tablets as well—anything. But there is a special reason why we use the name “cell phone book club”; people carry their phones everywhere.

In other words, cell phone owners can enjoy a library wherever they go, which is good for mass literacy.

We’ll show club members how to obtain free books from sites such as Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks and the Internet Archive. In fact, we already have embedded a video explaining Moon+ Reader Pro, which includes a downloader for popular sites offering classics and other freebies.

Some of these sites sell books, too—which is fine, since we believe in both the libraries and bookstores. One way or another, we need to support Zimbabwean writers and publishers and distributors. Free books can whet an interest in reading and lead eventually to people buying books.

Ideally we can involve not just young people but also their parents and grandparents. Older family members can be excellent role models. Along the way, we will introduce all generations to the technology through which they can read them e-books. What’s more, we will encourage neighborliness. We’re a community organization, not just a school one.

Finally, think of cell phone book clubs as places to have fun. If there’s dancing and music after the book discussions, so much the better!

Live far away from us? Here are tips on starting your own cell phone book club.

Note: Destroyer of the Worlds and Surface Detail are not available for free, as far as we know. But thousands of other titles are!

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