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Creation of reading resources

Explore the costs and processes for creating digital and print storybooks.

Good Stories Don't Grow on Trees: A Guide to Effective Costing of Storybooks in the Global South

Openly licensed resources are ‘free’ to access, but there are significant creation, adaptation, production, and use costs. The long-term sustainability of local-language publishing requires that these costs be met fairly, using financial models that will enable people to establish, grow, and maintain effective content creation organizations. This research aims to raise awareness of the various costs that go into producing and translating storybooks and of the relationship between investment and quality. It also serves to illustrate emerging business models for local organizations creating content using open licensing that funders and governments might wish to fund to support effective early literacy acquisition in developing countries.

Storybooks by and for children: The experience of Soma Book Café in facilitating children’s creativity

Soma Book Cafe in Dar es Salaam is a readership promotion space and innovative co-creation hub for literary expression and multimedia storytelling approaches. It provides different arenas for literary expression and discourse; promotes reading for pleasure and encourages independent pursuit of knowledge. Soma, which means read or learn in Kiswahili, is an apt name for an organization that strongly encourages both.

Watoto na Vitabu is Soma’s children’s storytelling programme. It seeks to cultivate creativity, love of reading, communication, and critical consciousness among children through interactive reading and storytelling. Soma's ambition is for this programme to function as a resource for multimedia content creation with and for children. In February 2019, Soma undertook a research and writing process with children on a pilot basis, experimenting with how to facilitate children to research and write original stories inspired by Tanzanian storytelling traditions. Its purpose was to generate insights and data on early literacy content creation with and for children. Through this project, Soma intended to systematically test and document its methodological approach as a replicable model, with tangible outputs to show for it. This case study documents Soma's process and the findings of this pilot project.

Book titles produced out of this project have contributed to Soma’s debut Kalamu Ndogo (Little Scribes) series. The series is written by children for children. These stories are also informed by how the children experience contemporary realities and their aspirations beyond the here and now. 

Open Licensing Business Models for Publishers: Evidence from Research

A key barrier to improving children's reading skills is limited or no access to textbooks and reading materials. An open education resource (OER) policy could help progress Early Grade Reading (EGR) efforts and is now a policy requirement for all United States Government-funded projects. Can stakeholders in the book production chain embrace an OER model, finding benefit in the approach for their businesses?

The answers to that question and other related matters are discussed in this webinar ( sponsored by the Global Reading Network (GRN) and its partner, the Global Book Alliance (GBA), for publishers in the African region of the globe on June 27, 2019 and those in the Asian region on July 18, 2019. The webinar focuses on Open Licensing Business Models and is aimed at creators and publishers of children's literature who are exploring the benefits, possibilities, challenges, and limitations of an open licensing business model.

This presentation was done by Neil Butcher.

Good Stories Don’t Grow on Trees: How much does it cost to produce high-quality reading resources?

This presentation was created for the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) workshop in Nairobi on National Book and Reading Policies for Africa from 17th to 19th June 2019. The presentation addresses issues related to the cost of storybook creation and adaptation of storybooks. 

African Children Deserve Stories about Themselves: The Intersecting Roles of African Authors, Illustrators, Communities, and Languages in Story Creation

This paper was written for the 5th IBBY Africa Regional Meeting, which was held 29 August-1 September 2019 in Accra, Ghana. The conference took as its theme: the importance of illustrations in children’s books.

In this paper, we focus on storybooks that children read for enjoyment because of their positive impact on academic success and also because these stories underpin the sustainability of a viable reading culture. We explore the role of content, illustrations, communities, and language in giving children stories in which they can recognize themselves. In addition, because appropriate stories and illustrations require sustainable story creation ecosystems, we also explore the capacity building necessary and the costs involved for both African commercial publishers and community story production. Commercial publishers may have different cost drivers and expenses from the NGOs that help local communities write their own stories in their own languages. The paper also assesses the benefits and challenges entailed in open licensing, which donors, such as the US Agency for International Development (USAID), now require in grants and contracts. Open licensing can impact deleteriously on cost recovery and income unless all members of the publishing ecosystem understand its principles. Careful consideration of its ramifications is therefore necessary to ensure that costs are fairly and fully covered.

Open Licensing of Primary Grade Reading Materials: Considerations and Recommendations

Restrictive copyrights can limit how likely reading resources are to be used, shared or repurposed, which significantly diminishes the potential impact of the materials.  Donors and international organizations are increasingly investing in open educational resources, as they are interested in ensuring that educational materials reach the greatest possible number of learners, and that broad access to those materials is not compromised at the conclusion of programs.  

In cooperation with Creative Commons (CC), the Reading within Reach team developed Open Licensing of Primary Grade Reading Materials: Considerations and Recommendations. This new GRN resource provides:

  • An overview of copyright and licensing
  • The benefits of open licenses
  • Guidance on choosing and marking work with open licenses
  • Advice on how to engage stakeholders in selecting an open license
  • A review of open license business models and ways to leverage open licenses

Watch the recent webinars on Open Licensing provided by Global Reading Network: You can access the webinars at the following links: Creative Commons Basics (an overview of Creative Commons and open licensing); Open Licensing Business Models (a look at how publishers in Africa and Asia are incorporating open licensing); and Approaches to Open Licensing for Early Grade Reading Materials (explaining different Creative Commons licenses and previewing the forthcoming resource).

What makes a Great Translation?

If you are planning to translate a storybook from one language to another, then these recommendations are for you. They offer helpful ideas on how to ensure the final story in the new language is high quality. A high-quality translation is one that was not necessarily translated word-for-word, but that retains the meaning and sensibility of the original story in the new language. At the same time, the new story may adjust to the specifics of a new language (e.g. the complexity of certain words), as well as the cultural context that comes with the new language. Essentially, translating is creating a new version of a story in another language.

High quality translations are important because they hold the power to create more quality stories for children to read. This is valuable especially in languages where written stories are scarce. In South Africa, the publishing industry focuses on Afrikaans and English, while African-language storybooks remain few. With quality translations, however, a publisher, NGO, writer or others can take a single written story and multiply it into more.

These recommendations were created through the Results in Education for All Children (REACH) Project and funded by the REACH trust fund at the World Bank and the Global Book Alliance. The goal of the REACH Project is to impact the children’s storybook industry in South Africa to ensure all children have exciting stories to read.

Community Libraries Action Research in Ethiopia and Uganda: Review Report

With funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and as part of its work on the early literacy ecosystem and open licensing, Neil Butcher & Associates (NBA) is conducting research into the successful sharing of alternative content creation and distribution models that harness open licensing. One project contributing to this research is the role of community libraries in creating high quality children’s stories written in local languages, and making these accessible with an open licence. NBA’s goal is to contribute to enhancing the availability of children’s books in mother‐tongue languages in Africa, using open licensing. This report by Ken Harley is a review of two projects – one in Uganda and one in Ethiopia.

What makes a Great Storybook?

These best practice quality recommendations for children’s books are a product of the public-private partnership of the REACH Project. They are intended for use by publishers during book creation, development, and production, as well as by purchasers and librarians for collection development.
The recommendations were derived from the REACH Consultative Workshop, held in November 2017, with representatives from government, the NGO sector, and commercial publishing (through the Publishers’ Association of South Africa).

Mango Tree's Literacy Model

This is a PowerPoint presentation on Mango Tree’s methodologies for teaching literacy to young children in Northern Uganda.