Book Write-A-Thon: 250 Million Children Lack Basic Reading Skills; Let's Make it Zero


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A guide for developing your own Book Write-A-Thon through Bloom to help increase the amount of resources in online libraries and battle early childhood illiteracy.

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BOOK WRITE-A-THON 250 Million Children lack basic reading skills. Let’s make it zero.


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WORLDWIDE, 250 MILLION CHILDREN LACK BASIC READING SKILLS. THAT’S THE EQUIVALENT OF THE ENTIRE POPULATIONS OF MEXICO,TURKEY, AND SOUTH KOREA, COMBINED. These children’s inability to read can be attributed in large part to the absence of books in local languages. Even when books are available, quantities are insufficient, quality is low, and they are rarely written in the local languages children understand. 2


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BOOKS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR LEARNING TO READ The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is committed to helping all children learn to read through several intervention strategies. One of the challenges in doing so—ensuring that every child has access to high-quality early grade reading materials—is not one that any single institution can meet alone.Therefore, USAID is leveraging the power of science, technology, innovation, and partnership in order to accelerate development results. The Global Book Alliance is an international effort involving multiple stakeholders working to transform book development, procurement and distribution to ensure that no child is without books. USAID encourages anyone who is interested in this issue to go to the Global Book Alliance website to learn more ( As part of these global efforts, the All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development, ( a partnership between USAID,World Vision, and the Australian Government, has developed Bloom, a free, open-source book writing software to help local authors and the global community write, collect, translate, publish, and share millions of reading books in local languages. 3


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WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? Do you want to help 250 million kids learn to read? With your help and the help of the Bloom software, we can raise awareness about the challenges of global illiteracy by engaging American universities, colleges, and communities in the production of children’s books. Individuals and organizations alike can join a global effort by participating at events planned and executed by student and community leaders in close partnership with USAID. All books produced at sponsored events will be added to a digital library - a global repository of open-source books in local languages - that can be downloaded, printed, and shared with children, ultimately empowering early readers everywhere to improve their literacy skills and increase their overall student achievement. 4


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ORGANIZE A BOOK WRITE-A-THON If you want to contribute to an effort that is working to get kids around the world access to books in their local language so they can learn to read in order to read to learn—this handbook is for you. Let’s walk through some steps you can take to organize a Book Write-A-Thon event in your local community. 1 Tools First—familiarize yourself with the tools that will be the core of your event— download the Bloom software, and learn how it works: Link to download: Video tutorials: 2 Build Your Team hh Community Engagement When hosting an event on a university or college campus, involve students and faculty from different schools. Make hh Campus Engagement hh Content sure to get someone involved from hh Communications & Marketing the School of Education and the local community. Here are a few suggested functions to consider as you build your hh IT Support hh Event Production/Support event team: hh Volunteer Coordinator 5


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3 Plan the Event As you design your event, here are some questions to ask: hh Who is your audience? hh What do you want to achieve (i.e.—will this be for a community service, an orientation event, etc.)? hh How can you engage different learners in different ways? hh How can you make this a fun and dynamic event that will make participants want to share what they learned, and even think about hosting an event for another community? Some ideas include: involving a local author or illustrator, inviting a teacher or parent to bring a group of early learner to read aloud, learning the software and creating a book in team- and of course, having food never hurts! Once you’ve answered these questions, be sure and: hh Pick a date, time, location hh Advertise—online, posters, local media hh Ensure all technology is working, and the Bloom software is loaded onto computers LITERACY FOR ALL JOIN US IN WRITING BOOKS FOR KIDS June 22 @2pm MLK Library 123 Main St. Somewhere, USA Snacks and drinks will be provided! 6


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4 Engage Community Partners If you’ll be hosting your event at a college or university, think about engaging undergraduate teacher candidates, business majors, art education majors, international relations/political science majors, graduate students in education or library science, international students, social justice clubs, returned Peace Corps volunteers. If hosting an event in your community, think about engaging asking immigrant communities or members of a diaspora population, local teachers associations, community service organizations, and small businesses to join as sponsors or to participate. ( Helpful Hint: Some community partners to consider include your local American Association of University Women, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Center for the Book affiliate, Lions Club, NEA or AFT Affiliate, ONE Campus Chapter, Peace Corps Recruiter, Rotary Club, or a faith-based organization. Beyond your immediate community, also think about other stakeholders that might be interested in your event. For example, reach out to your local elected officials, celebrity authors and illustrators, or other relevant media personalities. Even if they can’t participate, they might be willing to publicize the event to their networks or promote on social media. 7


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5 Schedule a Training Session Whatever stage you are in your planning process-- USAID is ready and willing to help! We are here to help you: hh Connect you with USAID partners who may be operating in your local area hh Promote the event on USAID’s social media channels (see following pages for suggestions) hh Produce promotional materials for the event hh Provide IT support for Bloom software hh Other questions - just ask! Email to schedule an in-person or virtual planning session. Now—go and have a wonderful event! John Smith’s event May 21 at 12:16pm Join the Author’s United Event on June 22 @2pm. Located at MLK Library, 123 Main St. Somewhere, USA. Snacks and drinks will be provided! LITERACY FOR ALL JOIN US IN WRITING BOOKS FOR KIDS 6 Follow Up With Participants After your event, send an email to all participants and invite them to stay involved. You may even consider setting up a listserv to maintain communications and update participants on relevant topics! ( Helpful Hint: Use social media to express your gratitude to an even wider audience.This may spark interest from individuals who may not have been able to attend, but would like to find other ways to engage in their community. 8


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PROMOTING YOUR BOOK WRITE-A-THON Let everyone know about your Book Write-A-Thon by sending an email, letter or print posters that can be hung up at your local library, college, community center, etc. Make sure to include all of the necessary details like date and time. Hosting an event on a university or college campus Use the text below to get you started. LITERACY FOR ALL YOU’RE INVITED TO A BOOK WRITE-A-THON USAID is partnering with [UNIVERSITY] on [DATE]- to pilot “Book Write-A-Thon” designed to convene an array of students, faculty, and members of the community to address the issue of global illiteracy. Participants will gather from [TIME OF EVENT] at [LOCATION ON CAMPUS] to learn about ongoing efforts to combat illiteracy, explore the challenges of the creative process with a local writer and illustrator, and even learn how to create their own book with the BLOOM software. BACKGROUND Launched in 2011 by USAID,World Vision, and the Australian Government, All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development is an ongoing series of grant and prize competitions that leverages science and technology to create and apply scalable solutions to improve literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries.The winner of All Children Reading’s Enabling Writers competition, SIL International, developed BLOOM, a simple, free, open source book writing software to help local authors and the global education community write, collect, translate, publish, and share millions of reading books in local languages. 9


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Key Messaging hh Around the world, children lack access to books. Even when books are insufficient, quality is low, and they are rarely written in languages children understand.Worldwide, 250 million children lack basic reading skills. hh Promoting literacy by teaching children and youth to read helps reduce poverty, improves health outcomes, and strengthens democracy. hh Global poverty could decline by 12% if students in low-income countries acquired basic reading skills in school. hh The lack of high-quality, affordable books is so severe, particularly in the early primary grades, that it cannot be solved without new and innovative solutions. hh The use of Bloom software, developed by SIL International with funding from the All Children Reading: Grand Challenge for Development, is designed to help develop high-quality earlygrade reading material.This tool supports development goals and is free of charge to anyone interested in developing books. hh Partnerships between the private and public sectors, with NGOs, universities, and individual actors are critical in order to address global illiteracy and achieve Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals - ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning. hh The pilot event at [UNIVERSITY NAME] at [TIME] will serve as a model for future events to raise awareness about global illiteracy at other U.S. colleges, universities, and community spaces. Links USAID Education: All Children Reading: SIL International: [UNIVERSITY WEBSITE] 10


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Social Media Handles USAID: @USAID USAID Education: @USAIDEducation Christie Vilsack: @ChristieVilsack World Vision: @WorldVision Hashtags #AllChildrenReading #EnablingWriters #Education #Literacy #smar tdev #reading All Children Reading: @ReadingGCD SIL International: @SILLEAD [UNIVERSITY NAME]: [UNIVERSITY HANDLE] [UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OR DEPT]: [SCHOOL OR DEPT HANDLE] #allchildrenreading #LetGirlsLearn #books #SDGs #Periscope Suggested Tweets hh [Three days prior to event] Tune into @USAID pilot event with Bloom software on a university campus-TOMORROW [UNIVERSITY HANDLE] [TIME] via [RELEVANT NAME] hh [RELEVANT HANDLE] will be streaming updates thru-out [HASHTAG FOR EVENT] event via [RELEVANT NAME]. [DATE] hh [One day prior to the event] Follow @USAID’s 1st ever pilot event with Bloom software on a university campus- TOMORROW at [UNIVERSITY HANDLE] [TIME] [EVENT HASHTAG] hh [Day of the event] Watch @USAID [SCHOOL/DEPT HASHTAG] pilot event with Bloom software - TODAY at [UNIVERSITY HANDLE] [TIME] [RELEVANT HANDLES] hh Follow[RELEVANT HANDLES] [UNIVERSITY HANDLE] [EVENT HASHTAG] for live updates at today’s pilot event with Bloom software. hh Watch partners [RELEVANT HANDLES] promote global #literacy LIVE! [EVENT HASHTAG] hh LIVE! @USAID joins [UNIVERSITY HANDLE] students faculty & community in [LOCATION] to write books in local languages #Periscope hh Want to contribute to global #literacy efforts? Write a book with @SILLEAD Bloom Software! hh Bloom software enables people everywhere to write #books in local languages.Try it! hh 250 million children in the world can’t read. Let’s address the problem together. #AllChildrenReading hh Children need to learn to read in order to read to learn. #Education #AllChildrenReading hh Low-cost books in local languages can unlock #education goals. #SDGs #literacy #AllChildrenReading 11


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DAY-OF-EVENT CHECKLIST Use the following handy checklist to ensure your event stays on track. Please note that some items on this list may not apply to your event. —— Name tags for participants are available. —— Sign-in for participants is clearly marked near registration area. —— Pens/markers are available. —— Materials to distribute are printed and clearly displayed. —— Take photos and/or video and share on social media. —— Post-event survey forms are distributed and collected at end of event. 12


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RESOURCES Global Book Alliance - Partner Websites Global Book Alliance: USAID Education: All Children Reading: Let’s Grow a Library - Bloom Resources Bloom Software: Bloom Library: Training Videos: Videos Becoming Mrs.Van Allen: Twitter @USAID @USAIDEducation @ReadingGCD @GlbReadingNtwk @ChristieVilsack #literacy #reading #allchildrenreading #LetGirlsLearn Email For more information, email: 13


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GLOBAL BOOK ALLIANCE BOOKS FOR EVERY CHILD VAMOS A LEER DEVELOPMENT 1 250 MILLION CHILDREN WORLDWIDE CAN’T READ. In many countries, children are struggling to read and do basic math. If you can’t read, you can’t succeed in school. If you don’t succeed in school, that impacts all other parts of your life. Access to books, in languages children understand, is a critical part of learning to read. This basic skill—learning to read—can provide children and youth with a pathway out of extreme poverty. The Global Book Alliance will address this challenge by transforming the development, procurement and distribution of books to ensure they get into the hands of children who need them. HEBU KUSOMA TODAY Many countries do not have enough books in the languages children know. TOMORROW Software will allow authors to write books for children more easily and to create versions of books to use across different languages and contexts. PROCUREMENT 3 TODAY Book availability is limited, quality varies and costs are high. TOMORROW Working through the Global Book Alliance mechanisms, procurement will be streamlined. Costs come down, quality goes up, and millions more books can be purchased. USE 5 TODAY Even if books reach their destination, they are not always used effectively by teachers and students. TOMORROW Teachers will receive the support they need to ensure children learn to read and read to learn. ACCESS 2 TODAY Even when books exist, they are difficult to find in a format that allows for reprinting over time and use across languages and cultures. TOMORROW The Global Digital Library will be a library/bookstore in the cloud, allowing everyone to upload, download and print the books they need, whether one copy for a family or millions of copies for an education system. DISTRIBUTION 4 TODAY A lack of strong supply chain management systems makes it difficult for countries to ensure a steady, predictable supply of books and increases costs. TOMORROW Improved planning,“track and trace” technology and strengthened distribution systems will ensure all children have the right books at the right time, year after year. 14



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