Literacy is the foundation for all learning in school.

Reading & Writing Instruction

Challenges to early grade literacy

In many parts of the developing world, insufficient teacher training, lack of instructional materials and a focus on memorization over comprehension often result in low literacy skills. Early grade textbooks and government curricula frequently place unrealistic expectations on young readers, with long, difficult texts and inappropriate sequencing of information.

Room to Read partners with Ministries of Education to supplement gaps that exist in the standard reading and writing curriculum—providing resources, in-service teacher training and classroom enhancements. In each country, our local team identifies areas where the current early grade literacy curriculum and teacher training fall short, and then works with a “core team” of education experts to develop a program that addresses those issues.

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Core competencies

We focus on helping first and second grade children “crack the code”, meaning that they can read and write familiar words and basic sentences with full comprehension, and express themselves clearly. Those skills provide the foundation for success as they continue on in school.

Literacy vs. poverty

If all children in low-income countries
left school with basic reading skills,

could be lifted out of poverty.

A comprehensive approach

Our program focuses on five main areas: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. We encourage teachers to incorporate all five elements into every lesson and to perform continuous informal assessments to track student progress.

Government partnership

We began to pilot literacy instruction in India in 2008, and since that time have developed pilots in nearly all Room to Read countries. Once we are confident that we are targeting the right issues in a particular country and having an effect on early grade literacy, we begin the process of transitioning the program out of pilot phase. For a few countries, that process began in 2011.

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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
-Frederick Douglass
Charity Navigator Four Start Rating

Less than 1% of US nonprofits have received nine consecutive Charity Navigator four star ratings. Our transparency and accountability place us among the best charities. See for yourself.

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See our work

Documentary filmmakers travel to Room to Read projects across Asia and Africa to tell the stories of children who are benefitting from our programs.

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You can change the world

Send a girl to school, start a library, or build new classrooms. We can help you run your own fundraising campaign with your friends and family, complete with your own microsite to collect gifts and track your progress.

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Have questions?

Contact us online at

Global Office:
+1 (415) 839-4400
9am-5pm Pacific Time (US)
Mon-Fri, excluding holidays

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