Digital Reading, Projects | December 13, 2022

Building Homes Book by Book


Reading helps us build better relationships, communities, and futures. For some families in Atlanta, Georgia, it also helps build homes. Together, Worldreader and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity are working to make accessible reading and homeownership a reality.

Child and Caregiver Reading

Reading is a cornerstone for educational and emotional success  – so is having a safe, stable place to call home. However, lacking one or both can cause harm to a child’s development. To offer a solution, Worldreader and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity joined forces to make reading and affordable housing more accessible.

Although a passion for reading is often kindled in schools, the places we live can be centers of learning, too. Our partnership goal was focused on using digital reading in promoting education while getting people into housing they could afford and enjoy.

Building the foundations

Habitat for Humanity has been working for decades to provide housing for people in under-resourced communities. In their goal to support homeownership, they have involved participants of their program in the house-building process. 

The organization achieved this by having new homeowners invest in their own project through ‘sweat equity.’ Families can gain these sweat equity hours by participating in construction, working at a Habitat ReStore, or attending life-building classes.

Worldreader’s BookSmart has created an additional option for families to earn sweat equity hours – by reading digital books with their young members. Caregivers can spend quality time with their children, build reading comprehension, and work towards homeownership.

This has allowed learning to continue beyond the school, encouraging children to improve their reading skills and for parents to be more involved. Our digital resource removes transportation costs, time barriers, and the financial burden of traditional books. Reducing these expenses can make a huge difference for families trying to manage a home.

By linking reading and housing services, we can reach children and families where they are and help get them the support they need. Jasmine, a homeowner through the program, used BookSmart to gain sweat equity hours and spend time with her son, Carmello. Together, they read digital books and completed activities available on the app. This allowed Jasmine to contribute towards both her homeownership goals and Carmello’s academic and social-emotional development.

Jasmine of Habitat for Humanity

“Not only [is Atlanta Habitat for Humanity] concentrated on making sure we provide people a safe, quality place to live and a great neighborhood, we’re also tying in other opportunities to help them grow and thrive – and education is one of those elements we help support.” – Alan Ferguson, President and CEO of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity

BookSmart: Changing reading, changing lives

Worldreader and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity have reached dozens of young readers, who completed nearly 500 books and over a hundred activities. The partnership has increased the time families spend reading together and created community-led change. Combined with local programs, BookSmart’s free digital library can be used to provide families with the support and resources they need the most.

Just as houses are built brick by brick, bright futures are built book by book. With digital reading, we can support under-resourced communities and the people who live in them. Laying the foundation for healthy and sustainable lives in young readers starts with strong education and safe environments. With free digital books through BookSmart and organizations like Habitat for Humanity, children can both get a home and get ahead.

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