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Statistics indicate that 250 million children worldwide are not learning the basics in reading and mathematics. In addition, multiple studies show that for the beginning reader, in need of simple single-word decodable text, as well as for the emerging reader, in need of text at increasingly difficult levels, provision of high-quality text can boost reading acquisition and performance. However, most young readers in the developing world do not have access to high-quality books.
Intensive Early Grade Reading programs are underway throughout the developing world, providing training for teachers, leadership support and high-quality reading materials for young children. One extremely promising new initiative is the Enabling Writers’ Workshop initiative, which supports the work of country-specific projects to write high-quality decodable and leveled books for use during early grade reading instruction.
This initiative is an offshoot of a previous All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development competition to produce a book authoring software that can be used globally to develop books for use in early grade reading programs. The competition was supported by the All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development partners—United States Agency for International Development, World Vision and the Australian government—and resulted in the adaptation of Bloom software.
Through the Enabling Writers Workshops, the ACR Partnership supports training and capacity-building for local authors to continue to create high-quality children’s books. As part of the International Literacy Day celebrations, University Research Co. (URC) announced new awards that will support six Enabling Writers projects:
Workshop participants in these countries will use Bloom software to create new books in mother tongue languages for primary children. The books developed through these workshops will be provided to national ministries of education and shared through the Global Reading Repository.
The process for creating high-quality books for young readers is not a simple one. Writers must consider language, cultural context, inclusion, scope and sequence alignment for decodable book development, and appropriate periodic increase in level difficulty for emerging reader instruction. The Bloom book-writing software, coupled with intensive training through the Enabling Writers Workshops, allows local writers to create decodable and leveled texts in mother tongue languages that local children can relate to and understand. The project is not only dramatically and quickly increasing the number of quality books available for reading instruction, but also helping to build capacity for writers and other local stakeholders to continue creating more quality reading resources over time.
These six new current country projects will be supported by the Global Reading Network, URC and SIL LEAD. As we move forward, we would like to hear from you, our GRN members:
Share your expertise and advice. We will pass it along as we begin this important initiative for early grades book-writing in developing countries. And stay tuned through the coming year to hear from these projects about their successes and lessons learned.