Kindle News of the World: From Uganda to My Parents’ Kitchen, the Story of Worldreader.org

Students in a school in Uganda learn how to use Kindles. (Photo by David Norman/Crossroads United Methodist)

My mother called this morning from her kitchen in Cambridge, Mass., with an alert from page C3 of today’s Wall Street Journal“You need to read this article about Kindles in Africa,” she told me. “It was founded by a former executive at Amazon.”

“David Risher?” I asked.

“Yes, that’s the one.”

I’m glad to see news of Worldreader.org is making its way into the mainstream media and onto the kitchen table of my parents’ home, because it is a fantastic program. I interviewed Risher in March, 2010, for TKC 88 of the podcast. His bold vision of bringing eReader technology to students around the world combines idealism with the practical advantages of E Ink technology.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Risher has raised about $1.5 million for the program. It has distributed 1,100 Kindles and 180,000 eBooks to pupils and teachers in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. Click hear to learn about several ways you can support Worldreader.

When I picture more than a thousand Kindles prepared for use in Africa, I know from personal experience that this represents a lot of work. Ken Clark and I have shipped approximately 300 new and used Kindles to U.S. Soldiers on active duty overseas through E-Books for Troops, the nonprofit we co-founded two years ago. M-Edge Accessories donates a light and a protective jacket for each Kindle that we distribute, so they are a key partner in the project.

David Risher two years ago explained that Worldreader has the opportunity to leapfrog print technology in the Third World. Many schools have very few books available in print, and many of those that are available have been donated from the U.S. I remember one example he mentioned, of an African school library collection that included–stop the presses–a history of Utah.

Ester Nabwire, head teacher at Humble Primary School in Mukono, Uganda (shown in photo above) put it this way, as quoted by The Journal: “The first books we got were mainly about the U.S., with kids playing in ice–which our pupils would not understand. With the Kindles, there are African authors, African names which are exciting the kids.”

Kindles and other eReaders make eminent sense in sub-Saharan Africa, where Worldreader reports that more than 200 million children have never read a book on their own.

This is a big story, and it is finding its way, I hope, to kitchens all over the world.

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Comments 1

  1. Kate wrote:

    I have such a lot of belief in e-readers, they are so versatile and have so much potential; the contribution they can make to the lives of people around the world has only just started – well done Worldreader! I help people with learning disabilities and they respond/interact so well to e-readers. The 9-year old daughter of a friend of mine teaches her younger twin brothers to read on her Kindle because she can make the text bigger. As you mentioned, in Africa and other countries of the world, they can download books that are relevant to them rather than read about lives that are far removed from their own. I have no doubt that this big story will find its way to kitchens all over the world!

    Posted 17 Jun 2012 at 6:54 am

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