Author Archives: literacy-reading

New Library of Congress Literacy Awards

Applications Being Accepted for New Library of Congress Literacy Awards

April 15 Is Deadline for Awards Totaling $250,000

Three prizes will be awarded annually:

  • The David M. Rubenstein Prize ($150,000), for a groundbreaking or sustained record of advancement of literacy by any individual or entity worldwide;
  • The American Prize ($50,000), for a project developed and implemented successfully during the past decade for combating illiteracy and/or aliteracy;
  • The International Prize ($50,000), for the work of an individual, nation or nongovernmental organization working in a specific country or region.

The awards will be conferred for the first time in October 2013 to recognize and support outstanding achievements in the field of literacy, both in the United States and abroad. Special interest is given to groundbreaking, innovative and highly successful work that could be replicated by others.

Individuals, institutions and organizations that are working to reduce illiteracy or aliteracy (having the ability to read, but simply not exercising the skill) are encouraged to apply:

Individuals might include, but are not limited to:

  • Educators
  • Librarians
  • School media/technology specialists
  • Community leaders

Institutions, Nongovernmental and Nonprofit Organizations might include:

  • Libraries
  • Schools
  • Nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations such as literacy groups, museums, community-based programs, school or library organizations, foundations

The application rules and a downloadable application form may be accessed at

For more and detailed information please also go to

UNESCO Publications out now

New publications from Uthe UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States in Beirut:

Life Skills (Arabic)

Teacher’s Guide for the Book Life Skills (Arabic)

UNESCO International Meeting of Experts: Fostering a Culture of Intercultural Dialogue in the Arab States, Report (Arabic) (English)


Literacy Study in Lebanon (Arabic)


School-Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV) in Lebanon (English)

Extended Call for Proposals: Intergenerational Literacies

The IFLA Literacy and Reading and Information Literacy Sections are seeking proposals for  its programme,  Intergenerational Literacies, to be held at the IFLA Conference in Singapore in August 2013. The deadline for proposals has been extended to February 24, 2013.

The challenge of new information and learning landscape can lead to all sorts of information gaps. One of them is a gap between texto and techno generations which can cause intergenerational isolation and separation. The program will showcase innovative and effective library programmes that intend to bridge this gap. Proposals are requested for papers that will present how this gap can be filled.

Complete information—including submission guidelines—is available on the WLIC 2013 website.

Call for Proposals: Intergenerational Literacies


79th IFLA General Conference and Council: Future libraries: Infinite Possibilities

Singapore, August 17-23, 2013.


Programme: Intergenerational Literacies: texto↔techno.

The IFLA Literacy and Reading and Information Literacy Sections are seeking proposals for  a joint programme to be held at the IFLA Conference in Singapore in August 2013.

The challenge of new information and learning landscape can lead to all sorts of information gaps. One of them is a gap between texto and techno generations which can cause intergenerational isolation and separation. The program will showcase innovative and effective library programmes that intend to bridge this gap.

Proposals are requested for as many as ten tabletop presentations which will be given simultaneously. After an opening plenary keynote address, audience members will rotate to three different fifteen-minute presentations of their choice.  Presenters will therefore be asked to repeat their presentation three times for three different sets of people.

Proposals chosen for presentation will be specific about how libraries and/or associations have tackled issues related to texto and techno literacies in their particular setting, thus developing intergenerational literacies, dialogue, digital inclusion and social cohesion. They should be grounded in theory, research, and/or practical applications.  Because these projects will be presented in an informal, small group setting, speakers should plan some visual accompaniment such as a poster that can be set up on the table.  Presenters may also want to bring brochures or flyers to hand out.  People submitting successful proposals will be asked to write a brief paper summarizing their library programme or project  for publication in the IFLA Proceedings.  All chosen presenters will be listed in the official Conference programme.

Proposals in English are required, and should provide the following information:

Name and institution of speaker(s)

Brief biographical information

Proposal title

Brief (300 to 500 word) description of project and presentation format  Language of presentation


Proposals should be sent to Elena Corradini (Secretary of the Literacy and Reading Section) at by November 30, 2012.

Please indicate “IFLA Proposal WLIC 2013” on the subject line. Finalists will be notified by December 15, 2012, and will be expected to submit final versions of their papers in one of the official IFLA languages by May 15, 2013.

For more information, please contact Leikny Haga Indergaard (Chair of Literacy and Reading Section) at:

Please note that it is the speakers’ responsibility to find funding for their participation.

Libraries for Literacy: session at annual conference

The Literacy and Reading Section of IFLA is holding a sesson, Libraries for Literacy: Linking generations, Empowering communities, on  Monday 13 August, 16.00- 18.00, Session Room 4, as part of the World Library and Information Congress in Helsinki, Finland, 11-17 August 2012.

The programme is as follows:

Positive signs for e-Reading in Ghana despite broken Kindles

This is an interesting press release from WorldReader:

Worldreader, a non-profit organization whose aim is to bring digital books to all in the developing world, along with the c(USAID) and ILC Africa, today released the results of Worldreader’s pilot study of e-readers in Ghana. Titled iREAD, the pilot program involved the wireless distribution of over 32,000 local and international digital books using Kindle e-readers to 350 students and teachers at six pilot schools in Ghana’s Eastern Region between November 2010 and September 2011.

Main findings:

According to the USAID-funded report from ILC Africa, an independent measurement and evaluation firm, the Worldreader e-reader program:

• Dramatically increased children’s access to books: Students with e-readers carried with them an average of 107 books each. Prior to the introduction of ereaders primary students reported having an average of only 3.6 books per student in their homes. Junior high school students reported having an average of 8.6 books at home, and senior high school students had 11.

• Increased enthusiasm towards reading: Students actively downloaded over 6,000 free books during the course of the study, in addition to the local and international text- and story books provided by Worldreader. This does not include thousands of additional free first-chapter samples and trial subscriptions to newspapers and magazines.

• Increased resources for teachers: The Kindles allowed teachers to conduct background research, create lesson notes, and design reading comprehension assessments for students. Since work was more efficient, teachers reported having more time to develop lessons.

• Increased performance on standardized test scores: Reading scores of primary school students who received e-readers increased from 12.9% to 15.7%, depending on whether they received any additional reading support. This represented an improvement of 4.8% to 7.6% above scores of students in control classrooms without e-readers. These results were obtained using the School Education Assessment (SEA), an assessment designed by Media Relations.

Ghana Basic Education Comprehensive Assessment System (BECAS) project.

The SEA exam is intended to show how well Primary 4 students understand core objectives within the English curriculum.

• Results at the junior high school and senior high school levels were mixed.“We have been pleased to be involved in the exploration of e-readers and look forward to further learning of the potential of different technologies that support the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service Plans for quality education improvements in Ghana,” said Marisol Perez, Education Office Director at USAID Ghana.

Worldreader says:

According to Zev Lowe, Director of Research and Operations at Worldreader, “We had hoped to see kids read more and better when provided a portable library of culturally-relevant books. We have seen even more enthusiasm about reading than we expected for a 10-month pilot, and look forward to making available more local and international e-books to many more students in the developing world as we continue on our mission to bring books to all.”

Involving the local community, theft and breakages.

During the pilot study, Worldreader worked with local leaders to raise awareness about e-readers. Worldreader’s collaboration with community leadership kept loss and theft rates of the e-readers to nearly zero. Breakage rates were higher than hoped-for, but feedback from Worldreader has since cut breakage rates by more than half. Worldreader continues to work closely with students and device manufacturers to improve care of e-readers with strengthening the design, while continuing to encourage students to use the e-readers outside of school so that they can read more.

What next?

Regarding next steps, Robert Davidson, former Education Office Director at USAID Ghana who helped initiate this Global Development Alliance between Worldreader and USAID, emphasized the continuing importance of partnerships to the future success of the program, noting that it will also be “critical for other bi-lateral and multi-lateral agencies to adopt technological and forward-leaning strategies in their program design.”

Since September 2011, Worldreader has expanded its program, distributing an additional 36,000 digital books to students in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. In addition, through its Worldreader Kit Program, Worldreader has made its e-reader program available to other organizations that seek to provide e-books to children throughout Sub Saharan Africa. Finally, Worldreader has recently launched a mobile phone application for inexpensive “feature” phones that allows anyone with a basic phone and mobile data plan to read hundreds of books for free.

Footnote  on Press Released

So that’s all good. The technological issue briefly mentioned above could be a substantial one – many of the Kindles got broken. This is a big issue in a country that cannot afford easily to replace such devices without external aid. See this article for more information on that. The full evaluation report of iREAD is available on WorldReader’s website. Also, many projects like this succeed for a short while, whilst investment and interest is strong – it’s the longer term results that will really count. However, Worldreader seem to be adopting a realistic approach and are keen to learn and adapt, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on what happens next.

2012 IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award Winners Announced

The IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award is given every two years to two projects and presented to the winners at the biennial IBBY Congress. Each nominated project is targeted to children who live in disadvantageous circumstances with no or little access to books.

The two winners for 2012 are Abuelas Cuentacuentos – The Grandmother Storytelling Programme, Argentina and SIPAR, Cambodia.

SIPAR began as a Franco/Cambodian association in 1982 to help Cambodian refugees living on the Cambodian/Thai border during the Khmer Rouge regime. When the government fell, SIPAR helped to rebuild the educational network and by 1993 was focussing its activities on reading including organizing libraries all over Cambodia and setting up rural reading centres. From 1993 to 2011 more than 1,000 librarians were trained in the SIPAR workshops. Recently the Cambodian Ministry of Education has taken over the network.

By 2000 it was very noticeable that there were no Cambodian children’s books in the libraries and the SIPAR staff were translating the donated foreign books and sticking the texts in Khmer in the books. During the regime of the Khmer Rouge all books had been destroyed and the creators had been killed. There were no publishing houses left in the country. In 2000, SIPAR started running training workshops for publishing, writing and illustration, mostly for children’s books. Today SIPAR has a small publishing department that is run by Cambodians. They have published 70 titles, and printed 130,000 free copies for the 200 SIPAR libraries and the students at the teacher training colleges for primary schools.

The IBBY Jury was impressed by the work done over the last twenty years as well as by the long-term training aspect of SIPAR that will build a book culture and thus answer a very big need for literacy in Cambodia. The work is sustainable and able to bring local language books to Cambodia.

Abuelas Cuentacuentos – The Grandmother’s Storytelling Programme in Argentina is organized by the Mempo Giardinelli Foundation (FMG) and engages older persons who like to read stories to children. Specialized personnel at the Foundation train volunteers and organize programmes in many schools in the metropolitan area of the city of Resistencia the capital and largest city in the province of Chaco, in northeastern Argentina.

This programme promotes reading, while at the same time it takes literature to thousands of the poorest children, many of them living in marginal communities. Abuelas Cuentacuentos has created opportunities for exchanges across generations, thus is not only beneficial to the children, but also has an important impact on the self-esteem of the grandmothers. The volunteers, mainly unemployed women between the ages of 50 and 70, have found that this programme is a new and productive way of using their time and their capacity to give affection through their new role of storyteller.

The project impressed the IBBY jury by its simple and original approach to reading promotion. The programme is easy to replicate and is sustainable over a long period. The promotion of intergeneration interaction is another aspect that gives it effective and emotional dimensions that are beneficial to both the children and the grandmothers.

Congratulations to these excellent two projects.