books for all
Worldreader is working to transform reading in the developing world, using e-readers to give children endless access to books so they read more and can improve their lives. A not-for-profit social enterprise led by former Amazon executive David Risher, Worldreader has distributed over 60,000 e-books to 600 children and teachers in Ghana and Kenya— all over the cell-phone network and WiFi— and have found that children read significantly more and better than they did before our program. Independent evaluation sponsored by USAID also finds that Worldreader primary school children’s reading scores have increased by eight points over those of control schools, and fluency levels have increased dramatically.
The books themselves are a mixture of local (Ghanaian and Kenyan) text- and story-books in English and Kiswahili that Worldreader has digitized, together with international books. We have worked with publishers from Random House to Puffin to Penguin to get the rights to use books for free in our program, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other books from Roald Dahl’s estate and more.
Worldreader works with partners from Minsters of Education to teachers and community leaders to ensure the success of the program. As a point of evidence, out of 600 e-readers currently in Ghana and Kenya, we have lost a total of three to theft.
In recognition for his work leading Worldreader, In November 2011 Bill and Melinda Gates awarded awarded David a grant as a Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellow; in December, David was named a Social Entrepreneur from the Draper/Richards/Kaplan Foundation. Further Worldreader funding comes from hundreds of private donors to corporate sponsors like the Butterfield & Robinson Foundation, to government sources like USAID, to businesspeople and philanthropists like Jeff Bezos and John McCall MacBain.
506 2nd Ave Suite 1800
Seattle WA 98104
David Risher is the President and Co-Founder of Worldreader.org. He was a General Manager at Microsoft and later Amazon.com’s Senior Vice President of US Retail before retiring and teaching at the University of Washington’s Business School. He is a member of ESADE Business School’s International Advisory Board and he has been deeply involved in education at all levels. David holds a degree in Comparative Literature from Princeton University, an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and sits on the International Advisory Board of Catalonia.
- 72,000 e-books distributed to date.
- Early data from 500-student study in Ghana: increases of up to 50% more time reading, with greatest effect in younger children, & a 4.4% improvement in standardized tests vs. prior to study.