Increasing Availability of the Books Children Love, Understand, and Can Use to Learn to Read
The Ambitious Goal of the Global Digital Library
Despite the fact that research has shown that instruction in the language children use and understand is key to effective learning, many educational systems around the world exclusively instruct young learners in languages that are not familiar to them. One reason for this approach is the simple lack of appropriate books.
Responding to this challenge, Norad, USAID, and the Global Book Alliance have teamed up to develop the Global Digital Library (GDL). This open source digital library is a collaborative effort that depends on the contributions of translators, local educators, and global citizens to facilitate access to and the development of titles in languages for which few children’s reading materials are available. These materials are then shared with site visitors who can read them online, download them, or print them for free.
The GDL currently offers titles in 23 languages including Kiswahili, Arabic, Bengali, Hindi and Khmer, in addition to French, Spanish and English that are defined as bridge languages. The platform will soon expand to include titles in 7 Nepali languages, 4 Filipino languages, 6 additional South African languages and Kinyarwanda.
Contributing to the Global Digital Library
To date, these titles have been developed by publishers as well as through writers’ and illustrators’ workshops funded through donor agency programs like USAID’s All Children Reading; A Grand Challenge for Development, Bookdash, Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read, Storyweaver, African Storybook Project, and programs funded by USAID missions and the USAID-funded Global Reading Network.
Titles can come not only from publishers and organized events. Anyone can visit the site and translate existing books to create new titles. Visitors can translate many of the books into any language in about an hour. After logging in with a Facebook or Google account, visitors can select a title on the library platform and click “Translate this Book” on the book’s page. During translation there are options to write your own or to accept suggested translations generated by the CrowdIn software GDL uses to facilitate translations. After translating a book the new title is available for the translator immediately and, like all site materials, undergoes a rigorous quality assurance process before being posted on the site.
A Growing Movement of Support
The GDL’s open source, digital infrastructure is provided by Norwegian Digital Learning Arena and the New York Public Library. The Global Book Alliance has pledged to provide titles, expertise, and resources to help the GDL realize its ambitious goal of making titles in at least 100 languages available on the platform by 2020.
With the help of translators around the world, the GDL will continue to expand with new content developed though translation and localization of the platform’s current catalogue. And of course, you can also support the GDL and early grade literacy simply by reading, downloading, or printing the materials provided on the site.