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Project information

Children's Book Publishing in Developing Countries

In developing countries where literacy levels are low, we will host workshops for writers and illustrators and the best ideas will be developed into brightly-coloured children’s books. These will be printed locally and distributed through our network of schools and libraries.

The time taken to publish and distribute a book varies, but we can start publishing as soon as we have a donor!

Charity information: Room to Read

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  • Need


    In developing countries, most children don’t have access to children’s books in their local language. The few books available are second-hand books in foreign languages or low quality, black and white books – not the type of literature that will spark a child’s imagination, curiosity, and desire to learn to read. In these struggling economies, often it is simply not profitable for publishers to print children’s books because local families cannot afford to buy them.


    We are significantly increasing the quantity and diversity of children's books published in local languages by sourcing and publishing new children's literature. The books are created entirely within the countries in which we work, supporting the local publishing industry and creating jobs for local authors and illustrators. All books are printed within the respective countries, where we publish 5,000-10,000 copies per new title and distribute to schools, libraries and other NGOs.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Provide children with access to high quality, culturally relevant books in their local language


    » Publishing a variety of culturally relevant materials for children written in the local language(s)
    » Distributing our children’s books to Reading Rooms where usage is promoted and books are a fundamental component of our Reading Room library programme
    » Distributing our children’s books to other organisations, such as public libraries, non-Room to Read school libraries, NGOs and orphanages

    What success will look like

    Success will be...
    Children in developing countries having access to 20 new children's book titles in their libraries and schools

    Aim 2

    Develop and enhance the local children’s publishing industry


    » Building the capacity of local authors and illustrators through training, and sponsorship of writer’s competitions and writing workshops
    » Hiring local authors and illustrators to create Room to Read’s books
    » Publishing children’s books in the countries where we work

    What success will look like

    Success will be...
    Publishing 20 new children’s book titles in the countries where we work, written and illustrated by local people

  • Impact


    We will promote literacy and the habit of reading, and enhance the local children’s publishing industry. We have demonstrated that we are providing access to more books, reaching more children, and building author/illustrator capacity, by increasing the number of titles published and the number of authors/illustrators trained, and expanding into new countries. For future tracking, we are developing indicators that measure the impact of our books on student reading attitudes, habits and skills.


    Working in multiple developing countries, there is a risk that currency fluctuations and price volatility could affect our financial management. However, we have a strong financial advisory group which ensures we have reserves and unrestricted funding to keep projects stable. In a few countries, there is the risk of political instability, but we work closely with local government and our local teams to avoid disruption to our projects, and have never been forced to close or suspend operations.


    Donors receive a Year in Review report for the county they are supporting and updates on the programme across all countries. If a donor funds an entire book with a donation of £10,000, you can add a personalised dedication in the inside cover of the book and you will receive copies of the book.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £200,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £88,340 Children's book production Manuscript preparation, printing costs and field testing
      £49,500 General programme costs In-country costs incurred by the programme, eg. writer and illustrator workshops
      £25,380 Programme staff and travel Costs of staff in-country responsible for programme, eg. Programme Manager
      £36,780 Management support Costs of country office and regional office providing support and expertise
  • Background


    This programme operates in seven countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Each country has been chosen based on their need for our programmes (high rates of poverty, high inequality, and low literacy) as well as a basic level of peace and stability that is necessary to effectively conduct our work. We prioritise countries where the government has demonstrated a commitment to education, so that we can help support and augment their positive efforts.


    The main beneficiaries are the children attending the schools where Room to Read has established libraries, which to date, number over 11,000 throughout our nine countries of operation. Each school serves approximately 300 students. Teachers and community members also use the libraries and are secondary beneficiaries of the books. Local authors and illustrators also benefit from our artist and writer workshops. Globally, a total of 738 authors and illustrators were trained in workshops in 2009.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have a proven track record and produce excellent quality books written, illustrated and published locally in each country. The programme operates in 7 countries, has published 553 titles and printed 5.7 million books to date. We are creating the building blocks that will lead to a local children’s publishing industry – trained, capable illustrators and literate children to read their books. Our network of libraries and partner organisations enables us to distribute as well as produce.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dhir Jhingran

    Chief Programme Officer oversees all programmes, brings 18 years experience of primary education and extensive experience of Room to Read in Asia.

    Willi Pascual

    Our Global Programme Officer will oversee the children’s book publishing programme in all seven countries.

    Programme Managers

    One dedicated local staff member will manage all publications in their own country, from sourcing the stories to printing and distribution.

    Authors And Illustrators

    Trained local illustrators and writers play a key role in creating books to inspire children to develop a lifelong love for reading and learning.

Drawing on Success to Author Change