Pratham Books was invited to attend a consultation convened by USAID, World Vision, Australian Aid, Library of Congress and Innocentive on creating a Global Repository of early reading material. The participants were organizations working on improving early reading in different parts of the world, content providers, librarians, teachers, education technologists and literacy experts.
There were several organizations that were working in Africa and we were the only ones from India. The meeting was fittingly held at the Jefferson Building in the Library of Congress in Washington DC which is a beautiful heritage building that supposedly houses a copy of every book printed in USA. The Library of Congress also houses one of the most delightful children’s libraries that I have ever seen called the Center for the Book.
The objective of the meeting was to validate the need for global repository of reading materials given that several minority languages across the world have a serious shortage of early reading materials for children. And to further brainstorm the possible form and features of such a repository and identify ways to overcome obstacles to its development.
The meeting opened with Christie Vilsack, the former First lady of Iowa who is a passionate advocate of libraries and their invaluable role in promoting reading and learning among children, sharing her personal experiences with children in Malawi. We shared our approach as an alternative publishing model that is facilitating multilingual literacy development in India and it was very well received. We also got to display our books in the grand halls of the Jefferson Building. Our open content policy had already opened a number of doors for us as other participant organizations like World Reader, Bookshare and the African Storybook Project were already using our books as part of their work.
We spent two wonderfully enriching days immersed in sharing experiences, developing new ideas and approaches which will hopefully contribute to getting the Global Repository for early reading material in several languages off the ground.