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Supporting young readers: Room to Read's global book publishing initiatives

April 25, 2023

Content and curriculum

Room to Read’s children’s book publishing specialists have exciting updates to share about their recent work around the world. From developing new kindergarten workbooks and teacher guides, to publishing diverse global book collections, to building the first-ever children’s book publishers association in Laos, there’s much to explore. Read on to learn more about the transformative, inspiring work conducted by our publishing team who are committed to supporting students in developing a habit and love of reading.


New kindergarten workbooks and teacher guides in India

In support of India’s new education policy prioritizing foundational literacy, Room to Read India created a balvatika package — or preparatory package — to support literacy for young learners ages five and six. This package includes a children’s workbook designed to provide opportunities for developing early childhood reading and writing skills. The workbook features stories, poems, classroom oral skill development activities, phonic activities and preparatory writing exercises. 

The activities in the workbook also incorporate various components of social and emotional learning and are culturally and linguistically relevant to the children's lives, which supports Room to Read’s goal of creating "mirror" learning materials for young readers where they can see themselves reflected in books and access literary resources that support both their personal growth and literacy development.  

Additionally, the publishing team created a teacher's handbook to complement the children’s workbook, which provides guidance on how to conduct literacy activities in a systematic and engaging manner. 

Images from the new teacher's guide and kindergarten workbook


Uganda creates new instruction book

After successfully adapting and distributing Room to Read storybooks and providing library training in two districts in Uganda, Room to Read and a local NGO partner, the Reading Association of Uganda (RAU), collaborated with the government to begin preliminary work for Grade 1 instruction materials.  

Pleased with how this work was proceeding, the government requested that Room to Read and RAU fast track developing and implementing a pilot learner instruction book to provide evidence for consideration in future textbook revisions at the national level. 

The Room to Read and RAU team, led by Literacy Associate Director Titus Kazungu and Literacy Director Kerri Thomsen, worked with local teachers, government officials, illustrators and designers to create pilot instruction books and teachers’ guides in two languages, developing the initial content in just three weeks. The illustrations, layout and revisions for the instruction books are being finalized now.  

The team designed a new double-page spread for the instruction books to accommodate a thematic story component, where some of Room to Read’s storybook content from Africa and across the world was included to build background knowledge, oral language and listening comprehension skill sets. 

New learner books in Runyankore-Rukiga


New global book collection: diverse experiences of play

Room to Read developed its third global book collection showcasing children’s experiences of play. This collection includes 12 children’s books depicting the diversity of play among children and the value of play in supporting social skills, collaboration with others and creative freedom.  

This book collection was developed for children to read about what they love to do the! Through these stories, young readers will see and learn about the games, activities and other events that they enjoy in their lives in an engaging, exciting way.  

The book collection’s development was a collaborative process between participants and mentors, which included writers, editors and illustrators from around the world. The mentoring process was crucial in brainstorming and developing the storylines and illustrations, and the participants collaborated among Room to Read’s country teams to help advance story ideas to their full creative potential. 


New storybooks and publishers workshop in Laos

In collaboration with USAID Learn to Read, Room to Read’s children’s book publishing team recently supported the development and publication of 51 storybooks. These storybooks have been widely distributed to pre-primary, Grade 1 and Grade 2 classrooms across Laos.  

Room to Read staff Alfredo Santos and Mahesh Pathirathna supported local book publishing experts, writers and illustrators to develop these titles. Teachers also received training on how to conduct engaging read alouds with the storybooks and how to set up and manage classroom reading corners and book checkout systems. 

The Room to Read publishing team also recently hosted two workshops conducted for children’s book publishers, writers, illustrators and government officials to discuss how to work together to increase the supply of quality children's books and build the commercial demand for them from the government as well as Laotian children, families and communities through multisector partnerships.  

Here are a few achievements and plans established from these workshops: 

  • The first-ever children’s book publishers association in Laos was created to strengthen collaboration among these multisector partnerships. This new children’s book publishers association will support the first International Board on Books for Young People in Laos. 

  • In collaboration with the government, Room to Read plans to help develop book catalogues to enhance the visibility of which book titles are available according to their thematic concepts. Before now, organizations like Room to Read had to purchase sample books and select from those, yet now with the creation of book catalogues, it will greatly support access and awareness in children’s literature and make it easy for anyone to purchase books.  

  • A market survey will be created to assess existing children’s literature in Laos and identify gaps in expectations of quality and variety. A gap analysis report will guide all partners in understanding the need for future publications. 

Image from a children’s book publishing workshop in Laos



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