Teaching with a local context

One of literature’s greatest strengths is its ability to introduce new concepts, but for young readers, a connection to the familiar is essential. That’s why we scout and develop the talent of local authors and illustrators, who introduce concepts like simple math, personal health, family life and beginning vocabulary with a familiar backdrop that children will recognize from their own lives.

More than just informative, our books are fun and engaging. The stories speak to children's interests, allowing them to expand their minds, nourish their imaginations and explore worlds they never knew existed.

Writers' and illustrators' workshops

Room to Read recruits new authors and illustrators through open calls advertised in the local paper and through universities. We then select the best submissions and invite them to professional development workshops where they are introduced  to the basic concepts of creating storybooks, and can engage in facilitated peer review of each other's manuscripts and illustrations. For many of the writers and artists we work with, the workshops are their first foray into children’s literature, so the opportunity to experiment and to garner feedback from other professionals is invaluable.

Our local language books have consistently been recognized over the years for their superior quality, having received several national book awards, industry praise and even the UNESCO 2011 Confucius Prize for Literacy.

Above: Lalchand the turban shop owner from, The Amazing World published by Room to Read in India.

Publication Languages in Africa
South Africa Afrikaans, IsiNdebele, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu, Sepedi, SeSotho, Setswana, Siswati, TshiVenda, Xitsonga
Tanzania Kiswahili
Zambia Chinayanja, Chitongga
Publication Languages in Asia
Bangladesh Bengali
Cambodia Khmer
India Hindi, Telugu, Rajasthani, Garhwali, Bundelkhandi, Chhattisgarhi
Laos Lao
Nepal Nepali, Tharu
Sri Lanka Sinhala, Tamil
Vietnam Vietnamese

Battling an epidemic

An estimated 35 children die of HIV/AIDS-related causes every hour. Of those infected by the disease, a staggering nine of every 10 live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Helping children cope with the loss of family members and educating them about personal health and safety is vital to eradicating HIV/AIDS in the region. Room to Read's South African Local Language Books team has collaborated with a local author and women's collective organizer for a series of books about coping with HIV/AIDS designed especially for young readers.

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Our results

Young readers' best chance for success comes when they learn to read in the same language as they speak at home. Room to Read has successfully published more than 700 titles in 27 languages in 8 countries. Our titles have been internationally recognized for their quality and the impact they have shown on children's reading habits.


With your help, we can continue to provide young readers with creative, engaging books that help foster a life-long love of reading.

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Books Published
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Less than 1% of US nonprofits have received eight 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?

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

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