Most college and university students would rather not use their cellphones for course readings, but phones are becoming an increasingly important tool in boosting literacy in underdeveloped nations.
The nonprofit Worldreader organization, based in San Francisco, CA, has created an app for feature phones and Android devices that gives youngsters from these countries a means to access thousands of digital books stored in a cloud platform. They pay nothing; the venture is supported by donations from organizations such as Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
While printed books and desktop computers are often scarce in rural areas across Africa, Asia, the Mideast, Indonesia, and other territories, many people there do have cellphones with Internet service. Worldreader is also working to make more e-books available in native languages, as children learn to read faster when the books are in their first language.
Worldreader’s latest effort is a partnership with Cambridge University Press to provide 390 titles in African languages. In all, Worldreader reaches kids in 37 countries and 23 languages.