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Amazon, Kobo Launch Literacy Projects

13899012696_f8fecf1e15_hSo Amazon is making a big deal today (and last week, Kobo) about its literacy projects. Amazon published a blog post announcing the "Kindle Reading Fund" which detailed how Amazon is fostering reading.

At least one of the programs (WorldReader, for example) is not new but has been an Amazon partner for years:

  • Worldreader – Through a new collaboration with Worldreader, Amazon is donating thousands of Kindle e-readers to support reading programs in the developing world. One recent program that we are proud to support is Worldreader’s LEAP 2.0 library partnership in Kenya, which reaches approximately 500,000 people by bringing digital reading to all 61 Kenyan public libraries. Worldreader’s mission is to create a planet where everyone is a reader—and after just six years, they have helped more than 4 million readers around the world access a library of both global and local books. For more information about Worldreader and their programs,
  • Local Schools and Libraries – As part of our contribution to the communities where our customers and employees live and work, Amazon has donated thousands of Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets to schools and libraries throughout the world. Amazon is committed to improving children’s literacy. Kindle e-readers are an exceptional tool for teachers and students to ignite excitement for reading and create more advanced learning opportunities by bringing technology into the classroom.
  • Hospitals and Nonprofit Organizations – We’re dedicated to helping local hospitals and nonprofit organizations. In the last year, we have provided devices to Seattle Children’s Hospital, Mary’s Place, Rainier Scholars, Well Spring Family Services and more in the Seattle area alone.
  • The National PTA – As the official e-reader of the PTA, Kindle and the National PTA are working together to help families get more involved in their children’s reading through the Family Reading Experience program. To learn more about this program, visit here.

It’s rather odd that WorldReader is mentioned here; so far as I know this charity has stopped distributing Kindles in favor of apps which are free and can run on the smartphones and feature phones everyone already owns.

And it’s really not a "new" partner". It’s been working with Amazon since at least 2012, when it was promoted on the Amazon homepage.

And few know this but you may have benefitted from that partnership. Worldreader had its own repair facility in Africa since at least 2012, and was trading info with Amazon which was eventually used to make later Kindle models more sturdy.

Kindle_ReadingFund_logo._V283093630_The vast majority of the millions of people helped by WorldReader are reading on apps, not Kindles, for just that reason. But hey, maybe WorldReader is getting back into Kindles again.

You can find more details on the Kindle Reading Fund, including how you can ask for Amazon’s support for a literacy program, on the Amazon website.


In related news, Kobo announced last week that they are supporting several literacy programs in Canada in an effort which is less flashy than Amazon’s and also more focused:

First Book Canada: Kobo and First Book Canada have partnered to bring new books to students at elementary and high schools across Canada—the majority of whom do not have a single book in their own homes. The access to a book of one’s own is key to the advancement of literacy among children, especially those from low-income families; studies show that “high interest in reading” triples among children who received new books from First Book, with reports of a 70% increase of reading in the home. More on the programs:

  • “Stop Summer Slide”: An initiative that took place in May and June, with the goal of preventing the loss of academic skills over the summer break. Each of three elementary schools took part in reading celebrations led by prominent children’s authors talking about the importance of reading and its effect on learning; each school also received 1,500 new books for students to own and keep at home.
  • This fall, Kobo and First Book Canada will work with high schools across the country on a program created to inspire young adults to embrace and sustain reading.

Frontier College: Again, to capture attention and support literacy among children who may have missed the important foundation years, Kobo is working with Frontier College’s Homework Clubs. The Clubs are designed to improve educational outcomes for children in high-needs communities—gaining the skills and confidence they need to reach their potential as contributors in Canadian society. Over the past year, volunteers have provided 19,336 hours of tutoring to 2,695 learners across Canada. Starting this fall, Kobo eReaders will be incorporated into select Homework Clubs to encourage students to read more while learning. Benefits of digital reading for Homework Clubs include:

  • With eReaders, learners can read any book they choose without anyone knowing what they are reading—which many find more comfortable, especially if they choose to read titles that are considered below their grade level.
  • Readers can learn new words by pressing and holding the word they’d like to look up to retrieve its definition instantly while they’re reading.

Family Councils Ontario: With the goal of supporting families in improving quality of life in long-term care homes, Kobo and Family Councils Ontario are working together to create a digital reading program for select homes in the Greater Toronto Area. ETAG, a leader in adult education that helps people understand technology, will offer training on the use of eReaders as well as eReaders themselves—which will be used by residents or family members and friends who choose to read to a loved one. Thin, lightweight eReaders are oftentimes easier to hold compared to traditional books, and the ability to set font sizes makes reading easier for people with deteriorating eyesight. Reading is associated with an increase in quality of life as well as a decrease in dementia-related behaviours.

image by Tim RT

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Frank August 24, 2016 um 2:42 pm

Worldreader mostly reaches readers with their mobile apps, but they still donate e-readers if they get any. It seems Amazon is sending the group thousands of Kindles.

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