| December 25, 2010

“Book Pushers”


Video from iRead launch

Worldreader.org invites you to take just two minutes and watch the reaction that the kids in Adeiso and Kade had when we brought hundreds of Kindles into their communities.  In an earlier post, I wrote about a boy I spoke to who did not get a Kindle, and how it broke my heart when he said “it was too late for him”.   Juxtapose that with the excited faces in the video.  What we are trying to do is create opportunities, the kind that only education brings.  These faces show that they understand that.

A few days ago, the BBC World Service went to Adeiso and interviewed two teachers in the iREAD program,  Veronica and Francis. Francis told the BBC that before the teachers had to share a meager amount of books between them- the children, of course, had none.

We are living in a historical moment for books.  Two days ago, the NYT’s Julie Bosman wrote: “the publishing industry used to be afraid of e-books.  In 2010, it embraced them”.  Recently, the Amazon Kindle team posted some pictures from Worldreader.org’s iREAD launch on their Facebook page, and we were impressed when we got 1.333 Likes – the most of any post in their history.   And you have to see for yourself the litany of comments.

What surprised me were the “Why aren’t you doing this right here in your own country?” comments (I am not going to dwell on the fact that we are a group of internationals based out of Spain).  On the one hand, I completely understand this sentiment.  The US has a failing education system and something needs to be done about it.  On the other hand, I find myself wanting to drive home the point that in the developed world, access to books is not the problem; there are libraries in almost every single community.  In the developing world, there is no access to books, as Francis says.  And we are proving that e-reader technology and best practices can make an enormous difference.

In one of my favorite moments in Ghana, David said something along the lines of: “I am absolutely unapologetic about pushing reading.”  Worldreader is a bunch of book pushers- in places where they’re no books.   Let’s prove this can work in the most remote areas in the world, because then it can work anywhere.