A message from our co-founder,
Dear friends, partners and supporters,
As many of you know, last month I made one of the most momentous announcements of my life. After 14 years of leading Worldreader every day, I’m moving out of the role of CEO and into the role of President of our Board.
As I look back at our impact in 2022, I couldn’t be more proud of our achievements and the strong, passionate team I leave in the capable hands of Rebecca Chandler Leege, who’ll commence her new role of CEO later this month. That’s why today, I want to celebrate the incredible impact we have achieved as a community.
In 2022, we reached the world-changing milestone of 21 million readers. That’s right – together, we empowered 21 million readers to write their own stories. 21 million people in over 100 countries who have experienced the benefits of reading to reach their potential.
But we’ve got much more to do, and even better ways to do it.
Together, we’re getting where the education system can’t reach. One enormous learning for me over the years has been seeing how stretched school systems are. Collectively, we’ve asked them to be educators, coaches, babysitters, life problem-solvers, restaurants, play-spaces, career counselors, STEM-promoters... the list goes on and on. And now we’re asking them to bear the brunt of the learning crisis in systems that are always under-resourced.
Yet there are 24 hours in the day, not just eight. And for most of those hours, kids have phones in their hands, and parents and caregivers who are willing to help. If we want to see change, we need to inspire and arm communities so that kids’ learning can happen more on their terms, and even earlier in their lives, since that’s when so much brain and social development happens.
So increasingly you’ll see Worldreader foster partnerships to get children reading out of school as well as within. By harnessing the power of mobile technology and digital reading, we can accompany children and support their learning journey throughout their day. At home, in the classroom, on the bus, in the park, wherever they want and can. This means partnering with educators to support their school efforts and unlock the superpower that is family reading.
The good news is that we’ve been helping families get children reading for years outside of schools. For instance, in 2014 and again in 2017 we partnered with the Kenya National Library service to get their staff trained on how to use Kindle e-readers loaded with books in every one of their libraries. And heroes like Kelvin went further, taking the e-readers out in his community so folks could read wherever they were.
And more recently in the US, our partnership with Atlanta Habitat for Humanity has let children help their families get affordable housing. It works this way: the more you read with your child on BookSmart, the more credits you get toward the ‘sweat equity hours’ you need for home ownership. Imagine the pride and excitement a child can feel knowing their reading has a positive impact on everyone in the family.
From Kenya to the US, from Peru to India, we took notes. In 2022, we developed our new Theory of Change. It tells you exactly why we must get children reading now, and how getting children to read just 25 books a year helps build a better future for all. Check it out now to find out how we’re making partnerships and family reading the keys to solving the learning crisis.
Let me give you a hint of what’s next.
The Worldreader team is working hard to make BookSmart the ultimate digital reading experience for children everywhere. A place of wonder and excitement, a reading environment that boosts a child’s skills and confidence. A library full of quality learning materials that can get and keep all children reading at least 25 books a year.
But we know that not everyone has access to the newest, shiniest technology. That’s why no matter what new feature we launch, or engaging design we create, BookSmart will always be free and available for all – from the latest tech to the simplest phones around. Anytime, anywhere, on any device.
Before signing off, I want to get something very clear, I’m not leaving. In fact, I’ll continue getting children reading with you – I’m excited to serve Worldreader and our readers as Board President. I will continue advancing Worldreader’s crucial mission and help solve the global learning crisis in any way I can.
Thank you for making 2022 a year of impact. Let’s make 2023 the year that gets even more children reading.
With gratitude,David Risher
Worldreader co-founder and Board President