A visit to the local library is a common ritual for families with young children. Even the smallest library’s shelves are stocked with many an armful of story books for bedtime.
In developing countries across Africa, the physical library is a rare enough sight. Books themselves are a luxury, even where literacy rates may be high. Mobile phones and e-readers, though, help to overcome the hurdles of distribution and high costs; these devices can put a library in nearly everyone’s hands. As a UNESCO study has reported, “mobile reading represents a promising, if underutilized, pathway to text.”
WorldReader, with headquarters in San Francisco, and offices in Spain and in Africa, has since 2010 assembled a digital library of 45,000 books in 43 African languages, with the goal to reach “every child and her family so that they can improve their lives.” According to Danielle Zacarias, Director, Content & Publisher Relations at WorldReader, the arrival of digital devices in a remote community is transforming.
“Before we sent some e-readers [to a library in Kenya], we asked the kids there what was their favorite book. Every single kid said, The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar. Afterward, we realized there was only one book in the library – and it was that book,” she tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.
“A couple months later, we came back and [as a result of the e-readers], every child had a different book that they loved, ” said Zacarias leads, who the Content team at Worldreader has worked with publishers and authors worldwide spent time in classrooms and libraries from Delhi to Kampala.
As 2016 approaches its end, WorldReader is raising funds to reach 9,000 families with access to books they need to enjoy bedtime stories. Donations to the “Share A Bedtime Story” initiative may be made directly from the WorldReader website.