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Room to Read Literacy Program

Room to Read believes that world change starts with educated children and focuses on two areas in which we believe we can have the greatest impact: literacy and gender equality in education. Through our ongoing Literacy program, we partner with communities in Africa and Asia to promote reading and writing, school libraries, sufficient classroom space, and local-language children’s books. Room to Read has served more than 8.8 million children in ten countries over the past 14 years with the goal of reaching 10 million children by the end of 2015. This has largely been accomplished through the generosity of private funding. At present, more than 10,000 individuals, corporations, and foundations fund programs each year. Room to Read has helped distribute more than 14.5 million storybooks, establish more than 16,000 school libraries, publish more than 1000 storybook titles in 28 languages, and construct 1,800 new libraries and school blocks. In one component of the Literacy program, the reading and writing instruction intervention, we partner with Ministries of Education to supplement gaps that exist in the standard reading and writing curriculum—providing print materials, in-service teacher training, and classroom enhancements. In each country, our local team identifies areas where the current early grade literacy curriculum and teacher training fall short and then works with a core team of education experts to develop a program that addresses those issues in grade one and two classes. We are currently supporting instruction in more than 2,800 classrooms and serving more than 110,000 children. Our work in reading and writing instruction began in 2008 when our staff in-country noticed that many children in the schools where we work were unable to read at grade level, and therefore could not take full advantage of the resources we provided through our libraries. We began piloting our approach to reading and writing instruction in India, which led to similar pilots in several other countries. In 2011, we began to transition several countries out of the pilot phase and into larger-scale implementation. Results to date show that students’ core literacy skills in grades one and two are greatly improved after participating in our program with respect to their peers, including in reading comprehension. We provide teacher in-service training based on international best practices with a focus on teaching methods that support the acquisition of reading and writing skills. That training is coupled with one-on-one support in the classroom which is conducted on a regular basis throughout the year by literacy coaches. Coaches help teachers practice new teaching methods throughout the year. We also work to identify gaps in government curricula and create materials to supplement the standard textbook. This may include letter cards for phonics practice, pre-writing exercises to develop motor skills and pupil books to guide exercises. Our goal is to improve reading instruction activities in ways that can be incorporated into government curricula, accessible to other organizations, and scaled more broadly.
Prime Implementers: Socio Health And Rehabilitation Program, Alarippu, Alarippu Delhi, Alarippu R, Association for Social Health in India, Himachal Pradesh Voluntary Health Association, Jan Chetna Sansthan, Jharkhand Education Project Council, Kumaon Agriculture And Greenery Advancement Society, Nav Srishti, Rajiv Gandhi Siksha Mission (RGSM) Chhattisgarh, Rajiv Vidya Mission, Rajya Shiksha Kendra, Roman Catholic Diocesan Social Service Society, SAKSHI, Urmul Marusthali Bunker Vikas Samiti, Backward Society Education, Child Health and Environment Save Society Nepal (CHESS Nepal), Education Resource Development Center, Fulvari Integrated Rural Development Organization, Prayatnashil Community Development Society, Vijaya Development Resource Center, Eksath Lanka Welfare Foundation, Janasarana Development Services, Kinniya Vision, Participatory Action and Learning Methodologies Foundation, People Help Foundation, Rural Development Foundation, Siddhartha Child Development Foundation (SCDF), Socio-economical Ecological Religious Virtous Empowerment, Trincomalee District Development Association, District BoET, and Lafarge Zambia Limited.
Implementation Timeframe
January 1, 2000 - Ongoing
Primary Implementing Organization: 
Please see "Description"
Funding Organization: 
Room to Read (various donors - corporations, foundations, individuals, other)
Reading Curriculum Development
Teaching and Learning Materials Development/Provision
Teacher Coaching
Textbook Development
Reading Assessment
Parent Teacher Association/Community Training
Reading Advocacy
Total Number Pre-Service Teachers Targeted for Capacity Building: 
Total Number of Students Targeted: