Digital Reading | September 10, 2020

Worldreader announces strategic partnership with Jio to reach over 150 million across India


This International Literacy Week, Worldreader announces a strategic partnership with Reliance Jio to bring children’s books to over 150 million in India.

Since BookSmart’s launch in the Jio Store on August 27, children and families have read more than one million books.

10 September 2020 – Delhi, India and San Francisco, California. Global education-technology nonprofit Worldreader today announced a strategic partnership with India’s leading digital services company, Reliance Jio. Worldreader’s BookSmart application running on Jio low-cost phones brings free children’s books to more than 150 million under-resourced households across India, most of whom are first-time internet users. Together, Worldreader and Jio aim to provide children from these households with a headstart and the support they need to build vital literacy skills. 

Since BookSmart’s August 27 launch on the Jio Store, children and families have read more than one million books. Popular topics have ranged from nature and science to values and folktales, allowing kids to learn, share values, and broaden their horizons. 

The top five most-read books to date include: 

  • Hawa aur Suraj (Wind and the Sun)
  • Hathi Shehar ko Gaya (The Elephant Went to City)
  • Dance of the Wild
  • Sabse Bada Khazana (The Biggest Treasure)
  • Nanha Piyanowadak (The Little Piano Player) 

 Reading is the foundation of all learning and later success in life. Young readers in India need support: 46.6% of children in Grade 3 are unable to read Grade 1 level text. Helping children read begins in the home with parents reading to their young children, yet nearly 80% of Indian households have no reading materials at all (2019 Annual Status of Education Report on Early Years). Now, thanks to Jio’s enormous low-cost mobile phone network, parents in under-resourced homes will have the Worldreader children’s library at their fingertips, eliminating a key barrier to access. Increased access to quality books will help build reading-skills acquisition.

“Jio believes in the combination of its world-class yet affordable 4G mobile network and relevant engaging digital content in ushering forward the Digital India Mission,” said a Jio spokesperson, based in Mumbai. “We are excited to partner with Worldreader to bring a rich collection of digital storybooks to hundreds of millions of homes across India, during COVID times and beyond into the new normal too.”     

 “Jio changed the world when they brought low-cost 4G data to millions across India,” said David Risher, CEO and Co-founder of Worldreader. “Now they’re doing it again by bringing life-changing reading material to children, supporting their education and life-skills development. We’re thrilled to announce this partnership during Literacy Week. Joining forces with Reliance Jio will improve the lives of millions of families.”

 BookSmart can be accessed through Jio Phone’s app store inside the Education category. BookSmart gives parents, caregivers, and pre-primary and primary-grade students access to a library of expertly curated and age-appropriate books through an easy-to-use app. The BookSmart library includes books about health (including Coronavirus hygiene), nature and science, language arts, social studies, as well as storybooks and folk tales. Working with publishers and education experts, Worldreader curates book collections to ensure availability of a book a week for 12 months at each age level. The book-a-week system allows parents, caregivers, and teachers to develop reading routines with their children. Consistent reading supports language development, comprehension skills, and critical thinking.

 BookSmart was purpose-built for children and families in under-resourced communities. The easy-to-use, lightweight app is optimized for all connection speeds, keeping data costs low.

 “For millions of under-resourced families across India, Jio Phones are their first digital experience,” said Bhanu Potta, Woldreader’s Global Executive Member and India Board Director. “Teaming up with Jio to bring high-quality children’s reading material to these families is not only important but urgent too. With the Coronavirus-related school closures, it is crucial to get digital resources into every home to help parents mitigate their children’s learning loss.”

 To promote the habit of reading to young children at home and in schools, a series of mobile-based story-reading sessions will be organized via Jio Meet. This initiative will motivate  young readers, parents, teachers and caregivers to read regularly using the encouragement provided through Jio Chat.

With BookSmart on Jio Phones, children in under-resourced communities across India will have the books they need to build reading skills, succeed in school, and build a better world.


About Worldreader

Worldreader believes that readers build a better world. A nonprofit with a low-cost, high-tech approach, Worldreader combines 21st-century technology, culturally relevant digital books, and supportive programming to improve learning outcomes, workforce readiness, and gender equity in vulnerable communities around the world. Since 2010, Worldreader and its partners have distributed over 50 million digital books to 15 million children and young adults across five regions (East Africa, West Africa, Latin America, MENA, and South Asia). Worldreader is always looking for partners to reach millions more.


Bhanu Potta, Global Executive Member and India Board Director

United States, UK, & Europe
Melanie Wise, Sr. Director, Global Marketing & Communications