2021 Annual Report

At Worldreader, we work with partners to engage children in under-resourced communities across the globe with reading opportunities. We do this work because reading is the foundation of all learning. With access to quality books, learning activities, and support – today’s young readers will build a better world tomorrow.

Responding to the education crisis

In 2021 we responded to the education crisis brought on by the pandemic. We provided digital reading programs in traditional and non-traditional settings, both in school and out of school.

But the children that needed resources the most weren’t the easiest to reach. We traveled to towns tucked high up into the Peruvian Andes, 3,400 meters above sea level. We went to Egyptian villages dotting the Nile; rural communities in remote deserts of Rajasthan, India; and schools in Chicago. During a year when millions of students were still at home or far from learning resources – we brought the power of reading to them, right on the devices their families already owned.

In 2021, readers across the globe read stories that not only reflected their world, but challenged them to build a better one. Thanks to you and your support, we’ve met the challenges of another unprecedented year and emerged more determined than ever to keep children reading. 

A message from
our CEO, David Risher 

The age of screens.

This last year, most of us probably spent more time on our screens than ever before. That’s both exciting and a little scary.

I’ve always believed in the power of technology to solve some of our world’s most pressing problems. I still do. But parents are worried about how much time their children spend in front of screens. I understand that too.

A recent 12-country study published in Nature  found that children’s screen time increased significantly during Covid lockdowns – an average of 50 minutes/day. And in the US, Common Sense Media found that screen time increased for teens and tweens 17% from 2019 to 2021, with a pronounced increase in social media use by children 8-12 years old (too young to legally use these platforms).

Some of the overall increase for school-aged children is certainly due to online schooling. But the Nature study also found that screen time increased among younger children – toddlers and preschoolers. In fact, in Spain, the study shows that two-thirds of children under 4 years old used smartphones or tablets daily during the COVID-19 lockdown. That’s a startling statistic.

The jury is still out on whether screen time will return to pre-lockdown rates. Habits, once established, are hard to break.

Our view is that we should focus less on screen-time quantity and more on screen-time quality. After all, my screen time has increased as well. But when I look deeper, I see that I’m spending more time reading the newspaper than before. In fact for me, longer-form reading is replacing social media. This must be our focus for children too – less scanning, viewing, or gaming and more reading. We know that building the muscle for longer-form reading is a crucial literacy skill.

If we accept that phones and other technologies will play ever-larger roles in our lives, we believe it’s our responsibility at Worldreader to improve the quality of those interactions by providing tools and content that encourage children and their parents to read more and read better. Where screen time is not an isolating act, but a bonding one. Where mindless scrolling is replaced by engaged learning. And where devices serve as a bridge between the physical and online world, instead of pulling us away from our surroundings and each other.

So how do we achieve all that? We’re guided by our ABCD Framework – a framework born when we realized that it’s not enough to just hand a child a device with a digital book. Instead, families need a reading program that engages children, encourages them to read more, and measures impact.

Access. We’ve come a long way since our early days of delivering digital books on Kindles. Since then, we’ve expanded across devices. Our aim is to reach readers where they already are – and that increasingly means on their phones, their tablets, their laptop computers, and even their TVs. This lets us give as many children as possible the chance to become readers.

Books. We’ve always delivered a library of high-quality books to readers– books from around the world, so children can see themselves reflected in the stories they read. But the learning doesn’t stop at the end of the story. That’s why we’ve added activities to our books to help young readers internalize what they’ve read and turn that content into something meaningful. Whether the activity gets them to create a drawing or play a game with their parents, these activities reinforce literacy skills.

Continuous engagement. The reason children – and parents – are spending so much time on their smartphones (particularly social media) comes down to the attention economy. Most apps have figured out how to keep us scrolling for longer, and coming back for more, time and time again.

So we’re using those same techniques to encourage children and their parents to spend more time reading alone and together. In some cases that could mean direct feedback when a child spends a certain amount of time reading; in other cases it could mean recommending a book that we think a child will like; in still other cases it could be a reward. It all adds up to increasing quality reading time – and that’s the biggest impact.

Data. As a digital reading organization, we’re lucky that we can use data to help us get even better at our mission. Data helps us select books that kids find most interesting and make helpful recommendations. It can let our readers know how they’re progressing, and can provide feedback to partners about what tools work best. Ultimately when used with care, data can create reading experiences that truly deepen the impact we have.

We’ve seen that it’s possible.

Technology has helped us reach 20 million people around the world so they can improve their lives. And children are being more exposed to screens than ever– we can’t change that. But we can change how technology is used, and what the implications are for the next generation of kids.

One of the most intriguing pieces of data quoted in the Nature study is that while increased screen time was associated with lower language skills, quality screen time (educational programs) and caregiver scaffolding during screen time was associated with stronger language skills in children under twelve years of age.

What we see is that when screen time equals time spent reading, learning, and bonding – children learn and grow. I urge you to join us as we help ensure that reading takes its place next to all the other activities our children do in their digital lives. It’s our chance to build a better world.

David Risher
CEO & Co-Founder, Worldreader

How we work

It’s always a combination of app-based access, books, continuous engagement and data. There’s a lot that goes into a successful reading program. But if we break it down, these four components are essential to helping children realize better learning outcomes, greater opportunities, and healthier, more prosperous lives.

This year, your support fueled reading projects around the world

In Egypt, you sparked creativity through an 8-week reading competition.

In Kenya, you helped students read in times of uncertainty.

In India, you gave children who could not attend day school a chance to learn at night.

In Peru, you delivered digital books 3,400 meters above sea level to students in the Peruvian Andes.

In Ghana, you supported children with digital reading across Kwaebibirem schools.

In the US, you helped students increase their reading times with goal setting and incentives.

Explore Worldreader in 2021 by the numbers

Everyone deserves the chance to read. Everyday, we’re getting closer to making that happen. Here’s our impact in 2021.




Books Distributed


Hours Read

The team moving the mission forward

Through strong leadership, vision, and courage, our world-class team successfully navigated a year packed with uncertainty. In 2021, talented Worldreaders across the globe worked tirelessly to keep children everywhere reading, even in the face of unprecedented circumstances.

Our financials

Worldreader is committed to high financial integrity and transparency. We apply our various resources in innovative and responsible ways to create a world where everyone can be a reader.





cost per reader

Source of funds

Donations & Grants


In-kind Gifts


Earned Income


Other Revenue


Total Revenue


Use of funds

Program services


Mgt and General




Total Expenses


Thank you to our partners

“Together, CARE and Worldreader are increasing access to remote, interactive learning for children and youth in under-resourced and marginalized communities. Through the Worldreader application, children, their families, and other caregivers are reading more and doing so more frequently, helping to offset the effects of school closures due to COVID-19 and other crises. We are confident that this will not only support them when they return to school, but also create lifelong learners.”

Rachel Hartgen, Senior Director, Education and Adolescent Empowerment, CARE USA

“What I appreciate most about our work with Worldreader is that together we bring a world of opportunities so that thousands of girls and boys can continue learning from their homes, despite difficult times.”

Sandra Contreras Angulo, Directora Ejecutiva, World Vision Perú

“Team4Tech is proud to partner with Worldreader by helping them build teacher capacity in Ghana and Kenya. With the support of highly-skilled volunteers, we’ve developed scalable, technology solutions to support digital reading in the classroom. Together, we are empowering more learners with a love for reading.”

Mehreen Butt. Program Director, Team4Tech.

“We are so proud to share the Worldreader mission with the Humble Bundle network (as a 2021 featured charity). The support for reading and literacy gains around the world ensures that we are making a difference today and in the future for so many children and families”

Kamini Tiwari, Humble Bundle, VP of Social Impact

Worldreader in the news

Simple Steps Families Can Take To Help Kids With Reading

“For families with fewer resources, one obstacle is the availability of books. To help address that, an international nonprofit called Worldreader has launched a free app called BookSmart that enables parents to access hundreds of books with just a couple of clicks on a smartphone.”- Natalie Wexler

Read more

By shortchanging global education, we risk our future

“We no longer live in a disconnected world. Every choice we make as a society has a long-term impact. If we don’t fund education abroad now, we are setting the next generation up to fail. Funding basic education needs like reading, writing and digital skills now is an investment for future stability globally.”- Rebecca Chandler Leege

Read more

Free and Accessible Technology for All Families Can Help Fight COVID Learning Loss

“Now is the time to prioritize accessible technology that is accessible by historically marginalized students who were disproportionately impacted by learning loss. Only then can we give these kids a fighting chance.”- David Risher

Read more

Phone Apps and Ebooks Make It Easy to Read Aloud to Your Kids

“Children ages 8 to 10 spend an average of six hours a day in front of computer or smartphone screens, so screen time on a device that already contains an e-reader can easily be turned into an opportunity to learn and read.”- Kristen Walter

Read more

A Global Reading App Is Ending ‘Book Deserts’ In the U.S.

“With COVID, we realized that a lot of the inequities we were seeing in other countries, we were also seeing here – as far as book deserts and lack of access to literacy resources.”- Kristen Walter

Read more

Partner with me to change the story – Educational Minister appeals to Worldreader International

Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, the Minister for Education has made a passionate appeal to the Worldreader International to partner with him to transform Ghana’s education sector through the enhancement of English proficiency of Ghanaian school children, most especially the deprived.

Read more

Worldreader Highlights the Importance of Reading at Atlanta Event

“After a year of learning loss, reading is more important than ever. Malcolm and I were both influenced by the magic of reading when we were younger, and we want to bring that same magic to Atlanta’s youth. This event highlighted the importance of reading access and we hope more people are listening now.”- David Risher

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Rebecca, the Maasai Changemaker Book Launch

“The Ashoka world reader Changemaker collection fits very well with promoting our ongoing digital learning through the “Keep Children Reading” initiative. We have partnered with different organizations to complete a set of Kenyan digital textbooks to suit children of all ages.” – Joan Mwachi

Read more

Our Community

2021 Donors, Partners and Supporters

We thank these donors for their support, some of whom provided annual gifts and others multi-year pledges.

Keep Children Reading US Founders Circle

We recognize the following donors for making it possible to bring the Keep Children Reading program to the United States.

Charles and Lorie Brighton
Alan and Vic Caplan
Chris Capossela and Leigh Toner
Bill and Lynn Carr
Richard and Kathie Dalzell
Adam Gross
Andrew and Elana Jassy
Atul Khanna and Amna Naseer
Jason and Jamie Kilar
Neen and Kirk Koenigsbauer
Dave Limp
Steve and Heather Murch
Lauri and Greg Nakamoto
Tod and Allison Nielsen
Charles Phillips
Alison and David Rich
Brian and Ann Roberts
Neil Roseman and Rose Tatlow
Praveen Seshadri and Ranjani Ramamurthy
Singer Family Foundation
Mike Sundermeyer and Carrie Anderson
David and Nancy Thacher
David Zapolsky and Lynn Hubbard

The Epic Circle

$500,000 – $1,000,000 and above
Charles and Lorie Brighton
Chris Capossela and Leigh Toner
Otis and Elizabeth Chandler Foundation
Cynthia and Steve Hammer
Kate James and Hans Bishop
Andrew and Elana Jassy
Shel Kaphan and Ericka Lock
Skip and Kimberly Klintworth
Tod and Allison Nielsen
Stephen Reidy
Jennifer and David Risher
Sue and Duff Sanderson
Peter and April Spiro
Karen Van Dusen and Joel Spiegel
Jeffrey and Liesl Wilke

The Anthology Circle

$250,000 – $499,999

Nathan and Stephanie Reis
Brad and Alys Smith
David and Nancy Thacher

The Novel Circle

$100,000 – $249,999

Donna Bellew
Peter and Elisabetta Mallinson
Lauri and Greg Nakamoto
Sudha Neelakantan and Venky Harinarayan
Dwight and Renee Smith
Mike Sundermeyer and Cari Anderson

The Poetry Circle

$25,000 – $99,999

Fraser and Dierdre Black
Adam Bosworth
Alan Caplan and Vic North
Adam Gross
Larry Hitchon and Dana Reid
Brad Horwitz
Hunter Family Giving Fund
Dana Johnson and Mark Nelson
Kirk and Neen Koenigsbauer
Dave Limp
Paul Maritz
Kartik Raghavan
Neil Roseman and Rose Tatlow
Praveen Seshadri and Ranjani Ramamurthy
Singer Family Foundation
Star Soltan


$10,000 – $24,999

Craig and Susan Bruya
Bill and Lynn Carr
Jenifer Jacobi
Kosmo Kalliarekos
Donald Niemann
Diego Piacentini and Monica Nicoli
Cintra Pollack
Alison and David Rich


$5,000 – $9,999

Tom Alberg and Judi Beck
Stan and Sophie Beraznik
Brad Chase
Sandra Cisneros
Liz and Luke Dollar
Pam Fleischer
John Jameson
Timothy and Jennifer Kingston
Guillermo Lock
Edward and Polly Nicholson
Zibby Owens
Matthew E. Russell Foundation
Josh Schweitzer and Mary Sue Milliken
Jeff and Laura Shell
George and Cherry Snelling
Julie Tafel Klaus
David Thompson and Judy Jesiolowski
Paul Van Der Wansem
Paige and Bob Vanosky
David Zapolsky and Lynn Hubbard


$2,500 – $4,999

Esther Flammer
Steve Kessel and Sibyl Frankenburg
Colleen and Clyde Mcqueen
Harrison Miller and Clare McCamy
Lindsay and Patti Paxton Eberts
Arthur and Kate Sawyer
Autumn Schwed
Robert Short and Emer Dooley
John and Martha Stewart


$1,000 – $2,499

Gary and Judy Amado
Joan Anderson
Abigail Bach
Juanita Baker
Stan Beraznik
Laura Balkovich
Clara Barreneche
Greg and Lynn Baugher
Stephen Beili
Samantha Bennett
Robert Bielecki
Neil Black and Sherri Wolson
Richard Bushell
Pamela Bynum
Jordan Carlson
Mary Case
Rebecca and David Leege
Colleen and Dave Chase
James Collett
Richard Coppola
William and Virginia Cressey
Delanson Crist
Jeanne Crosno
Duke Dang
Antonio Delgado Planas
Jacqueline Dupree
Megan and Fred Eiden
Anna Ford
Jeff Freedman
Stephanie and Jim Gamble
Paul Garner and Clair Hector
Carl Gish
Jane and Andy Greenthal
Max Greenwald
Greg Hart
Lucy Hattingh
Ashley Hodapp
Nancy Horie
Kent Johnson and Gillian Thomson
Brewster Kahle and Mary Austin
Jacquie Labatt
Wilfrido Loor Canizares
Nicholas Lovejoy
Lori Massad
Mattoon Family Giving Fund
Colin McElwee
Frances and Mac Merenda  
Lucie Murray
Tamra Myers
Brandy Netherton
Barbara Niemann
Dr. Robert L Nussbaum
Jed and Sarah Nussdorf
Craig and Teresa Pape
Rene Pelegero
Bea Y. Perdue
Nicole Philip
Bhanu Potta
Brian and Carrie Pratt
Anand Ramdeo
Nicolas Roux
Fernando Sancho
Lori and Ron Saxon
Nalorm Tay-Agbozo
Clare Trevail Joy
Kate Walbert
Rob Walsh
Richard Ward and Cheryl Capriola
Lori Wright
Deborah Yeh and Mark Risher
Bobby Yerramilli-Rao
Hayley Young
Adrian Zackheim


The following comprises corporates, nonprofit organizations, and institutional partners.

Amazon Digital Services
Amazon Web Services
Barefoot College
Bezos Family Foundation
Bournemouth University
Bright Funds Foundation
Camfed International
CARE International
Cheshire Services Uganda
Clif Family Foundation
Constantine Family Charitable
ConveGenius India
Cotton On Foundation
Epic Systems Corporation
Ford Foundation
Foundation for Information Technology Education and Development (FIT-ED)
GEANCO Foundation
Ghana American Foundation
Ghana Library Authority
Global Giving
Goethe Institute
Good Today
Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo (GRADE)
Hogan Lovells International LLP
Humble Bundle
Hunter-Jelks Foundation
Instituto de Estudios Peruanos
Intertrust Cloud Services Corporation
Jane Austen Literacy Foundation
Jio (Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.)
Larry L. Hillblom Foundation
Lead School India
Lehigh Valley Reads
Margaret A. Meyer Family Foundation Inc.
McKinsey & Company
Microsoft Corporation(employee matching gift program)
Moose Creek Charitable Fund
Morrison & Foerster LLP
MoyaApp #datafree
MTN Ghana
My Special Word
National Independent School Alliance
Network for Good
Open University
Own Backup
Pencils of Promise
Penguin Random House
Plan International Peru
Population Council Mexico
Quest Foundation
Raising A Reader
Reading Partners
Salesforce (employee matching gift program)
Save The Children Uganda
Second and Seven Foundation
Share the Magic Foundation
St Martin’s Kibagare
Stratcomm Africa
Survey Monkey
Tableau Foundation
Tellumind Foundation
The Good Roll Foundation
Thermo Fisher Scientific
TisBest Charity Gift Cards
United Way Ghana
University of Nottingham
Viacom CBS
Vivo Energy
Vodafone Ghana
Western Regional Libraries
Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation
WomenServe Foundation
World Bank Group
World Vision
Wycombe Abbey School – The Girls Education Company Ltd


Afram Publications Ghana Limited
Arte Publico Press
Asia Foundation
Booktalk Africa Ltd
Crabtree Publishing Company
Destiny Media
Dolphin Press
Dorling Kindersley India
Ediciones Pichoncito
Feminist Press
Grey Gecko Press, LLC
Grow and Know
Hachette UK
Hugo Rodriguez
Inner Truth Books
Iván Bolaños
Laura Jimenez
Mango Publishing
Maria Luisa Figueroa
MME Media
Morgan and Claypool Publishers
Mountype Publishing
New Africa Books
Osu Children’s Library Fund
Oxford University Press
Pages & Stationery LTD
Penguin Random House
Peppy Pals
Perazim Kenya Ltd
Pickle Yolk Books
Prabhat Prakashan
Pratham Books
Prudent Pens
Reading Teacher
Red Oak Limited
Room to Read
Ruby Yayra Goka and Ruby Goka
Sam-Woode Ltd
Star Bright Books
Step Publishers
Storymoja Africa
Treasure Books
Tulika Publishers
Ubongo International
Winmat Publishing Ltd
Xylem Inc

Thank you!  All of this impact has been made possible by dedicated supporters like you. Thank you for sharing our vision of a better world, powered by readers. We hope you’ll share these incredible milestones with your friends and family.