Booklists | June 22, 2016

What Worldreaders are Reading in 2016


Worldreader is all about reading.  And the more we expand our collection of digital books, the more broadly people read.

Each month, about 300,000 people read books on our mobile phone apps and another 100,000 people– primarily school-age students– read books on our e-readers.  When we first started, our collection numbered in the hundreds of books but now our readers have over 37,000 digital titles from which to choose.

And look at what books they’re reading so far in 2016: everything from sparrows to straight A’s to Sisyphean tasks. Here’s our latest Top 10 list of books read on mobile phones.

Top 10 Books Read on Mobile Phones

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If you look closely at the above list, you’ll notice not only the thematic variety but also the linguistic variety in our most recent top titles. While our collection features titles in 43 languages, until now English has been the language of choice. In this latest round, we find not only English, but also Arabic and French joining the top 10. Why? Because Worldreader is reaching new audiences through partnerships with organizations like Opera and Orange.  The world in which everyone can be a reader is becoming a reality and it’s thanks to our many supporters.

In our school-and-library-based e-reading programs, longtime favorites like The Girl with the Magic Hands remain popular this year alongside newcomers like A Tiny Seed: The Story of Wangari Maathai. Also very popular have been picture books by Tad Hills, our author ambassador who recently returned from visits with enthusiastic young fans in Ghana and Kenya. Whether the life story of a beloved hero like Maathai, or a funny story about a dog learning to read, both sow important seeds in the minds and hearts of children striving to find their way in a world where the odds are often stacked against them.

While storybooks and fictional novels score high for school kids, our library-based readers are devouring nonfiction in equal measure. Biographies about Barack Obama, poems by Wayne Visser, and the ever-important Where There is No Doctor, win big in libraries. Narratives of self-empowerment and success are striking alongside practical manuals for treatment of disease – and both are improving the lives of Worldreaders.

Library-based E-reading Programs

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School-based E-reader Programs

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Of course titles are only a hint at the wider story of what (and why) Worldreaders are enjoying on their mobile phones and e-readers. These books and the others on the above lists represent a wide variety of genres including religion, romance, study resources, biography, historical fiction and fantasy. Clearly, Worldreaders are anything but boring in their reading interests.

Anansi and the Pot of WisdomVenturing beyond the numerical data, we’ve also discovered a lot just by talking with our readers. At this year’s Digital Reading Summits in Accra and Nairobi, Anansi Stories (traditional tales from Ghana) came up over and over again as favorites. Whether with twenty-something Ghanaian bloggers or school kids in Western Kenya, the spider of lore is a literary sensation.

And so we add spiders to our original list of sparrows, Straight A’s, and Sisyphean tasks. However, unlike Sisyphus, Worldreaders know that reading is a habit that rewards those who return to it again and again. As such, we’re busy matching read-alikes to our most popular titles to ensure all have the right book at the right time. A life-saver, literally or figuratively.


Wondering how you can help us get books to more people around the world? Find out how you can donate funds, your time or your books.