HELPING TO CLOSE THE CHILDREN’S BOOK GAP IN UGANDA
In 2020, our literacy team set out to identify gaps in the Ugandan book supply chain and strategize ways to close those gaps. We then partnered with the Reading Association of Uganda early in 2021, and together, we distributed 35,000 Room to Read storybooks, translated into Luganda, to primary schools across the country. While the initial distribution of translated titles marked an important first step in closing gaps in available and accessible children’s books in Uganda, we know that young learners need stories developed in their own countries and in their local languages — stories that reflect their own cultures, histories and lived experiences — to develop a true lifelong love and habit of reading. To that end, Room to Read is currently collaborating with Ugandan authors, illustrators, book creators and publishers to develop our first ever collection of original storybooks in the country.
FILLING HOME LIBRARY SHELVES IN CAMBODIA AND LAOS
Over the last two years, Room to Read has developed and distributed home library packages to students learning at home across Cambodia and Laos. The packages include local language storybooks, educational worksheets and instructional guides for parents and caregivers supporting students’ literacy development at home. Since we launched the initiative in 2020, our teams in Cambodia and Laos have distributed more than 1.4 million books to young learners across the region.
Initial data from Room to Read’s evaluation of the effectiveness of these packages revealed that 95 percent of families included in the study used the home library packages with their children at least once a week during school closures, and that most children frequently read the storybooks independently. Data also showed that 80 percent of students between Grades 3 and 6 read storybooks aloud to their family members, and many also shared their storybooks with friends. This extensive sharing points to an increasingly active reading culture in these communities.
ADDRESSING REPRESENTATION IN THE UNITED STATES
In 2021, we released research findings that underscored the fact that education inequities persist for underserved children in the United States who do not have access to children’s books that reflect their diverse identities and experiences. The study, conducted by independent researchers, was funded by Tatcha, a global skincare brand that has invested in Room to Read’s programs since 2014. The research identified regions of the U.S. where investments in education equality would have the greatest benefit through Room to Read’s unique expertise in literacy and book publishing for diverse and historically under- resourced communities.
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