Pratham Books

The Global Storybook Project – addressing the ‘book famine’ for children

Lead Organization

Pratham Books

Bangalore, State of Karnataka, India

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Project Summary

Over 617 million children are not acquiring basic literacy. This can partly be attributed to the fact that 40% of students cannot access education in a language they understand. To meet the 2030 SDGs for education, children must have reading resources in their own languages.Pratham Books’ StoryWeaver platform provides open access to quality storybooks in multiple languages, which can be downloaded, shared and printed. Easy-to-use online tools enable further translation and versioning, so that books can be customized for local requirements.In 4 years, StoryWeaver has grown from 800 storybooks in 24 languages to 15,000 storybooks in 200 languages, used by children in 150 countries.Our project will create 100,000 books in 100 languages focusing on underserved regions of the Global South. 20 million copies will be disseminated via partner networks to impact 20 million children directly and open pathways to lifelong learning for 100 million learners.

Problem Statement

Reading is the cornerstone to literacy. Several studies have shown that children who read often become better readers, and better reading leads to success in school and other areas of life. For children to become readers, they must have access to books in the languages they speak and learn in. Yet, in many parts of the world this is either non-existent or sorely lacking. There are not enough books, in not enough languages for children to learn and practice reading. This problem of book access is most severe in developing countries. UNESCO estimates that 40% of people do not have access to an education in their own language. The challenges are most prevalent in regions where linguistic diversity is greatest such as in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific.The world faces a fundamental challenge of how to bring books to the millions of children in an accelerated and sustainable manner. Fortunately, technology is helping level the playing field. It has democratized the access to content. Digital networks, computers, mobile phones have removed some of the constraints that have kept books expensive and exclusive. It is now possible to create and share content to the farthest corners of the world almost instantaneously. Today, a robust internet connection gives a person access to more books than in all of the physical libraries ever built. Technology has also enabled greater collaboration to overcome the barriers of language, geography, ability, and cost - all of which have traditionally limited access to books.

Solution Overview

The Global Storybook Project will create 100,000 books in 100 languages and provide access to them in print, digital and accessible formats. A thriving partner network will engage by providing insights for book development, translation support and also use the books in their programs. 20 million children will directly benefit from the project over five years but the reach of the books will impact 100 million children. Our proposed model will dramatically reduce the costs of creating and distributing storybooks to 1/5th of prevailing global costs and accelerate their production, making book scarcity obsolete. The project will be designed to support long term sustainability by building local capacities for book production and distribution.We will track progress by measuring project outputs and outcomes. The first set of metrics will track the number of books produced, their languages and genres. The second set of metrics will measure distribution and access. The third set will measure reading progress in children. The final measurements will study impact on building capacity across the book chain ecosystem. The project will directly impact India and other target regions in the Global South. However, with the books developed as open access public goods, there will be a large spillover in other parts of the world.Children up to the age of 14 will benefit from linguistically and culturally relevant books to learn to read from. Educators, literacy organizations, and Ministries of Education will benefit from access to an open repository of quality, multilingual books.

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Project Funders

  • (Google India Private Limited)
  • Cisco Foundation (CISCO Systems (India) Private Limited)
  • Oracle Foundation (Oracle India Private Limited)

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