TALAS, Kyrgyzstan -- The US formally donated 13,560 children's books to eight public libraries in Talas Province, the US embassy in Bishkek said in a statement last week.
The September 15 ceremony took place at the Talas Province Library in Talas city.
Alan Metzer, the embassy chargé d'affaires, handed over 1,695 books each to the eight libraries. The books contain "tales, stories, riddles and poetry", said the embassy.
The donation was part of the US Agency for International Development (USAID)'s Reading Together project, which is meant to improve children's reading skills.
Representatives from the Culture Ministry, Talas provincial education department and Talas public libraries attended the event.
USAID plans to deliver 145,506 books eventually to 86 Kyrgyz libraries.
Reading Together has reached 60% of Kyrgyzstan's primary schools. It has helped 260,000 schoolchildren sharpen their reading skills, "prospects for educational success and future earning potential", according to the embassy.
Kyrgyz and Russian books
"The US has given a large gift to the libraries of our province and met the needs of our children and teenagers," Chyngyz Murtaliyev, a vice-mayor of Talas, told Caravanserai.
"The books are badly needed by our libraries," he said. "They will make a great contribution to the development of the rising generation. Our children will receive great benefit from the books donated by the US embassy."
"This is a major, badly needed and timely contribution," Murtaliyev said.
"The US embassy donated books that we truly needed," another Talas vice-mayor, Nurkyz Bazarbayeva, told Caravanserai. "We can finally renew our libraries' holdings."
The donated books were in both Kyrgyz and Russian.
"Our libraries especially needed books in Kyrgyz," Bazarbayeva said. "These books are engaging. They're colourful, illustrated. They portray nature in Kyrgyzstan and our national traditions. We received books about Kyrgyz traditional clothing -- how it was created; how it took shape. Our libraries also got encyclopedias and works of fiction."
Timur Karayev, a resident of Talas city, said he was overjoyed to hear that the provincial library was getting new books.
"I've been a library subscriber for a long time and know that many books had become old," he told Caravanserai. "There hadn't been new books for quite a while. That's why these new books [donated by] the US are a source of great joy for residents of Talas and for our children."
[Asker Sultanov contributed to this report.]