May 02, 2022
Room to Read’s global publishing specialists have been busy over the last few months finalizing new children’s book collections, forming new partnerships that will help us distribute more books to more children from historically underserved communities and bringing together inspiring writers and illustrators from around the world to develop new storybook titles that will help children develop a habit and love of reading. Read on to find out what we’ve been up to!
Room to Read Literacy Manager Alfredo Santos and Design and Production Senior Analyst Janet Pagliuca recently celebrated the virtual launch of Room to Read's new Folklore & Environment Book Collection, which uses ancestral narratives to tell stories about climate change. Developed in 2021 through a virtual Room to Read Writers’ and Illustrators’ Workshop made up of authors, artists and editors from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Vietnam, this robust collection of 11 books celebrates a diverse range of folk stories that have been shared across generations to help children reflect on the future of the natural world.
Learn more about the Folklore & Environment Book Collection and get to know the writers, illustrators, workshop mentors and project coordinators that made this collection possible:
Our book publishing specialists are currently putting the finishing touches on the collection before it goes to print later this year. One book from the collection, “The Story of Rice,” chronicles the adventures of a young Vietnamese boy as he meets characters from a traditional Vietnamese folktale about the plants that produce rice, learning along the way all that is involved in growing the plants and harvesting their seeds. Written by Nguyêt Hà and illustrated by Phúóng Quynh in Vietnam, “The Story of Rice” is a candidate for publication with a commercial publisher in the United States. If selected, the storybook will be revised and edited for an English-speaking audience and published in the fall of 2024. Stay tuned for more on this in the coming months!
In partnership with the Reading Association of Uganda (RAU), a local chapter of the International Literacy Association, Room to Read hosted our first ever in-person Writers’ and Illustrators’ Workshop in Uganda this past January. The workshop brought together a diverse group of children’s book authors and illustrators from the local community, including primary school teachers, educators from the Ugandan National Curriculum Development Centre, a Ugandan soldier and two refugee writers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the coming months, six of the participating illustrators will create artwork for 11 Room to Read original storybook titles that will be published in Luganda, the primary language of instruction across the country, and Ruyankore-Rukiga, a common language of instruction in south-western Uganda.
Part of our ongoing custom literacy work in the country, January's workshop and the forthcoming original book collection will help to close gaps in available children’s books in Ugandan primary schools — gaps first identified by Room to Read’s literacy team and members of the RAU in 2020. Since the custom project officially launched in February of 2021, Room to Read has distributed 35,000 storybooks, translated in Luganda, to Ugandan primary schools. As the first Room to Read book collection developed in Uganda by local authors and illustrators, in local languages, the forthcoming titles will create opportunities for local children to read stories that reflect their unique experiences, histories and cultures, thus helping them develop a habit and love of reading.
Room to Read is thrilled to share that new book collections are currently in development in both Cambodia and India. Writers’ and Illustrators’ Workshops are underway in Cambodia, with the first six titles from a new 12-book collection currently in development with editors and design specialists. In India, Room to Read Writers’ and Illustrators’ Workshops have largely focused on themes of climate change and social-emotional learning — specifically, storylines that help young children navigate feelings of sadness, grief and other challenging emotions experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Following feedback from local art directors and Room to Read India’s book publishing team, six original titles are currently in development.
Late in December of 2021, Room to Read began distributing books from our Peace & Equality Book Collection to children in historically underserved, low-income communities across California’s Central Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. The book distribution marked the start of a new U.S.-based project for our publishing team, generously funded by global luxury skincare company Tatcha, our partner since 2014. We are thrilled to now be providing high-quality children’s books to children across the United States who have limited access to engaging and diverse reading materials within their home and community.
Since December, Room to Read has provided 6,805 sets of our 10-book Peace & Equality Book Collection (that’s 68,050 books total!) to more than 40,000 children in the Central Valley, covering Fresno, Kern, Tulare and Los Angeles counties, and the San Francisco Bay Area. To benefit children with the greatest educational needs, we have partnered with four organizations — First Book, Reading and Beyond, Save the Children and the United Way of Kern County — that will distribute books to afterschool, family engagement and early childhood education programs.
Watch this special video to hear directly from a child in California’s Central Valley about why she’s excited to have diverse storybooks at home: