WorldReader, Winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize

February 2016



Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions that have developed innovative means of creating and sustaining a lifelong love of reading. The National Book Foundation is proud to recognize Worldreader as a winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize.

Worldreader is a US and European nonprofit created in 2010 by David Risher (former executive) and Colin McElwee (former ESADE Business School’s marketing director) whose mission is to make digital books (via e-readers and mobile phones) available to children and their families in the developing world, so millions of people can improve their lives. Worldreader combines new technologies, the mobile phone networks, and declining costs to provide immediate access to hundreds of thousands of local textbooks, storybooks, and international literature.

Via its e-reader programs, Worldreader has delivered over 480,000 e-books, impacting nearly 10,000 children and families in six sub-Saharan African countries. Those children now read more, read better, and are improving their communities. In addition, through Worldreader Mobile―a book application―more than half a million people globally are reading a wide variety of books, including educational material, health tips, love stories, prize-winning short stories, children’s books, and classics, all on a device they already own―their mobile phone. Many of the books in Worldreader’s programs are from African publishers and authors. When students begin to read, they are more engaged when the stories in their books are familiar to them. Worldreader partners with African publishers to make their books available to children in the e-reader programs, and to everyone through Worldreader Mobile. At the same time, the literature of the world is of immense interest to children and adults everywhere. Worldreader’s international publishing partners make their books available at no cost, exposing children and families everywhere to some of the best-known literature in the world.