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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.

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.

Trainer's Guide for the Multi-Strategy Economy Model

Primer Construction Manual and Teacher Trainer's Guide

The Multi-Strategy Economy Model (M-SEM) is based on the same philosophy as the Multi-Strategy Method with 2 separate tracks each focusing on different reading and writing strategies (whole language and word building; top-down and bottom-up). However, it integrates the tracks more explicitly. Also it requires fewer materials -- only a set of primers and chalk boards. The M-SEM was designed especially for national propagation, for language areas with lower education, and for those with less economical means. The primers are easy to construct by mother-tongue writers who have experience in writing their language. Teacher training only takes about 1 week because teaching patterns are simple and consistent. Teaching patterns also give flexibility for inconsistent schedules or teaching different age groups. Extra reading materials can be easily incorporated into the method as they become available.

Where Have All the Textbooks Gone?

Toward Sustainable Provision of Teaching and Learning Materials in Sub-Saharan Africa - a report by Tony Read for the World Bank.

Content development cost questionnaire (FRENCH)

The questionnaire above was also translated to French and circulated to publishers in Francophone Africa.

Content development cost questionnaire

NBA is researching the cost of producing storybooks in local languages. Because NBA believes that maintaining the vitality of the indigenous content creation industry is a key priority, it is circulating a questionnaire to document costs. Donors and governments purchasing local books understand that openly licensed resources may be free to the user, but they still cost money to produce. They are usually willing to pay these expenses because publishing cost components are recognized and understood. Even so, storybook publishing is complicated in the global South. The real costs associated with producing high-quality children’s picture books are not always clearly laid out. Publishers and other content producers must be able to state exactly how much money is required to fulfil a commission. NBA hopes that this research will assist content producers make informed arguments about real costs and help those that fund early childhood reading resources understand what is entailed in producing a high-quality children’s book.