| May 23, 2012

Let’s Start a Million Books Movement


Sometimes, the biggest ideas come from the simplest, most everyday things, like watching kids play in a schoolyard.

On my first trip to Africa with Worldreader, I noticed instantly how kids gravitated towards soccer and how, much like the kids at home, they used anything they could find – -a plastic bottle, crumpled paper, a deflated ball — to practice their footwork. Behind them, in their classrooms, shelves were bare and reading material scarce. The contrast struck me. You can always make a soccer ball, but you can’t mush up some trash, improvise a book and expect kids to love reading. That got me thinking: Soccer is universal. Reading isn’t. But shouldn’t it be?

One thought jumped to another and another. In a few, select classrooms, Worldreader kids carry a library of books in their hands. When they are turn on and off their Kindles, they see people they don’t know yet– Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Jules Verne and Virginia Woolf.  These classic authors might inspire you or me, but who inspires kids in Africa playing soccer outside schools with no books? Right… soccer players.

Today, we’re announcing something amazing, a powerful idea that took seed about a year ago. Last spring, we approached Futbol Club Barcelona, a club that places enormous value on hard work, education, discipline and sportsmanship. We signed an agreement with Barça to find ways to inspire kids to read, including using images of their players on our Kindles to encourage kids to read more.

Before launching this, I did a little internal market research and asked my own 10-year-old, an avid Barça fan, what she would do if Lionel Messi, the best player in the world, told her to read more. Her eyes widened, and she exclaimed, nodding, “I’d read more!”

Soccer hero Lionel Messi inspires kids to read.

We saw the same sense of awe when our kids in Ghana recently turned on their Kindles and Messi popped up to say, “Champions read.” Then, Xavier “Xavi” Hernández laid down a “Dare to read more” challenge, Seydou Keita asked, “I read. Do you?” and Éric Abidal reminded kids, “Every book is a goal!”

Since they came in as personalized messages, the kids saw their heroes speaking directly to them. Fourteen-year-old Deborah asked me, “Messi cares if I get a good education?” “Yes,” I told her.

Watch this clip, filmed and produced by our video manager Lisa Andracke and her Oscar award-winning dad, Gregory Andracke, to see how other kids in Ghana reacted when they saw their heroes on their e-readers. Here’s the video subtitled in Català and Castellano. Fans in Latin America may enjoy this version.

The Million Books Movement

Deborah is only one child in one school in one part of Africa. How can we reach more kids, and make reading as universal as soccer? We have another idea (see how they keep coming?).

With support from FC Barcelona, Amazon Web Services, Hulu and others, we are kicking-off our first major fundraising campaign and doing something that has never been possible before: We want to send 1 million e-books to Africa.

In the last few months, we’ve hit significant milestones. We’ve sent 50,000 e-books to Africa, then 75,000; recently, we topped 100,000. Now, we’ve set a goal to raise enough money to send 1 million e-books to Africa.

Let’s do this together by the end of 2012. Join Worldreader and our trailblazing supporters like FC Barcelona who want create a movement all over the world. Help us make history.

Get Involved

Here’s how you can be part of the Million Books Movement:

  • Donate $5 so we can get more kids more e-books. $5 is an e-book for Charles.
  • Post one of our awesome banners on your website (Click here for banners in Catalan or Spanish).
  • Tell your friends about the Million Books Movement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+.
  • Spread the word about Worldreader and the Million Books Movement using the hashtag #MillionBooks.
  • Have a bake sale, sell lemonade, run a race or come up with your own idea to support Books For All.

One million e-books.
One e-book at a time.
History starts now.
Be part of it.

Help us make history. Join the Million Books Movement today.