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Room to Read Marks Major Milestone With Distribution Of 10 Millionth Book

October 28, 2011

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Today, Room to Read, an international nonprofit organization focused on literacy and gender equality in education, celebrated the distribution of its 10 millionth book to its network of more than 12,000 libraries. The symbolic ceremony took place at the Ngu Hiep 2 Primary School in Vietnam with Room to Read founder, John Wood present to mark the occasion. As part of the celebration, Wood presented the school’s 500 local students in grades 1- 5 with a box of new books for their library, including the emblematic 10 millionth book, “Floating Market,” a Room to Read original title. The celebratory day continued with literacy games, story time and art workshops with a Room to Read illustrator.

“I am thrilled to be in Vietnam celebrating an important Room to Read milestone. Equally exciting is that I am in Vietnam with one of my heroes, Nicholas Kristof, for the documentary based on his book, Half the Sky, and together we visited one of the school libraries we’ve established within our global library network,” stated John Wood, founder and board co-chair of Room to Read. “It was great to see hundreds of children embracing literacy and the habit of reading. We are clearly not finished yet, as there are still hundreds of millions of children who deserve to go to school, become literate and develop a love of books and reading. Room to Read is committed to continuing to work hard so that every child has better educational opportunities and outcomes.”

Room to Read reached this milestone through its Local Language Publishing program, which develops and distributes original and culturally-relevant local language books, and through its Gifts-in-Kind program, which includes donations of new English-language books from select publishers.

Room to Read launched its Local Language Publishing program in 2003 when the organization noticed a lack of local language children’s books available in the countries in which the organization operates. While Room to Read was providing donated English-language children’s books to the libraries they established, children’s books in the local language, an essential component of education, were either absent or limited. Since then, Room to Read’s award-winning Local Language Publishing program has developed over 575 original children’s book titles in 25 languages, representing 5.6 million printed and distributed books. Specifically, Room to Read Vietnam has printed and distributed 351,000 local language children’s books. In collaboration with corporate sponsor, Bloomberg, the 10 millionth title, “Floating Market”, written by Hai Kim and illustrated by Ngoc Bich Nguyen Thi, was sourced through local workshops that Room to Read holds to develop the capacity of emerging authors and illustrators.

Room to Read Vietnam has gained particular recognition from the Ministry of Education for their “big books” initiative, which includes “Floating Market.” “Big books” compliment existing school curriculum and textbooks, and include a range of stories, folktales and various learning activities that teachers and librarians can use with multiple children in the classroom or libraries.

Room to Read was recently awarded the 2011 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Confucius Prize for Literacy, in recognition of its efforts to improve literacy utilizing the talents of local writers and illustrators to create culturally-relevant reading materials through its Local Language Publishing program. In addition to books published and distributed through the Local Language Publishing program, Room to Read sources books through a corporate Gifts-in-Kind program that has, since 2000, provided more than 4 million new English-language children’s books from key publishing partners including Scholastic Inc. and Pearson Foundation. It is through these generous donations and the publishing of Room to Read’s original local language titles, that the organization has been able to reach this exciting 10 millionth book milestone.

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