Craig Mod travels to Ghana to see the impact of e-books being accessed through Worldreader.
I peeked through the window and none of the thirty or so children stirred. All heads down, deep in their ebooks.
The silence was overwhelming and in stark contrast to the volume of everything else I had experienced in Ghana.
The Kade children are as children elsewhere: agile with machines. They quickly learn to landscape them, magnify the font size, prop them up like tablets for relaxed reading. They have no trouble with the interface. They make the Kindle do things I didn’t know it could do. The children find hidden features, text-to-voice features, make the devices read to them?—?robotically but surprisingly clearly?—?and follow along as the text moves in unison, helping them navigate words that might be a bit out of their English register. Most importantly, the children learn to find books. Books they love, books they must read for homework. Books with curious titles.
Miss Jackie explained to me I was witness to their summer reading session. That the children were of all ages because they were sent voluntarily by their families.
I reflected back on how most of my suspicions regarding the efficacy of Kindles in Ghana had been assuaged. The students seemed enthralled, and the devices didn’t stutter.
But most importantly, I said, I loved watching Miss Jackie hold forth like a loving taskmaster, accepting no bullshit from the students. That was the key. She ran her classroom decisively, without nonsense or skepticism. You could see that strength inspire the children. That the students read as much and as well as they did was because of her, not because of the Kindles. In fact, I continued (now sitting up in my seat), the most heartening part of the entire operation was how the school and staff were so supportive of the devices, and so obviously eager to foster a culture of literacy and appreciation of literature. You could feel that support bleed beyond the school. Since the children were there voluntarily, so too, by extension, was the community. And that felt very right. In the end, the Kindles were exactly what they were supposed to be and nothing more: containers to get books to children otherwise without.
More and more of the reading happening through Worldreader is not on ereaders but cheap feature phones and smartphones. Devices implicitly connected to the network.
The most exciting part of bringing these students online through reading is that, eventually, “they will become net exporters of their culture.”
We are happy to share that many of our books are also available on Worldreader. You can download the app and find them at the following places: