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Worldreader Official Logo.jpg
Founded 2010; 7 years ago (2010)
Founder David Risher, Colin McElwee
Type Non-governmental organization
Focus Creating education opportunities and reading cultures in Africa and Asia.
Area served
Africa, Asia, South America
Key people
David Risher, Colin McElwee
Slogan A World of Readers
Mission To unlock the potential of millions of people through the use of digital books in places where access to reading material is very limited.

Worldreader is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that delivers e-books to people in the developing world.[1] The organization uses e-readers, mobile phones and other digital technology to provide readers in 53 countries with a digital library of over 45,000 book titles,[2] since 2010, Worldreader has served over 5.4 million readers.[3]

The organization is headquartered in San Francisco, California and has offices in the United Kingdom, Spain and in Africa.


Kindles and African Schools and Libraries[edit]

Worldreader distributes e-readers preloaded with books through partnering schools and libraries, using the non-profit's e-reading solutions, the organization provides technical and pedagogical training for local project managers and teachers and e-reader repair training for local businesses. They also manage logistics and support in partnership with local governments, school systems, and related businesses.[4]

For schools or libraries without access to electricity, the non-profit has a solar product, called BB17, that gives schools and libraries the ability to charge and use e-readers.[5]

As of September 2016, the non-profit has distributed 24,725 Kindle e-readers to 159,817 people including children, families and communities in 12 sub-Saharan African countries.[6]

Mobile phones as digital libraries[edit]

The Worldreader Open Library is Worldreader's mobile reading application providing worldwide access to books, educational resources and health information to people with mobile phones,[7] the non-profit launched Worldreader Open Library in April 2012.[8]

As of December 2016 the Worldreader Open Library had more than 4.5 million readers worldwide, largely due to its partnership with Opera Software,[9] which promotes the mobile app on the Opera Mini browser in 34 African countries.[10] The app is also available on Microsoft Windows Store, in Mozilla's Firefox Marketplace and Google's Play Store.


Worldreader is organized as a 501c3 charitable organization in the United States, and has received a Guidestar Transparency Seal, its U.S. Board of Directors[11] consists of: Peter Spiro, David Risher, Colin McElwee, Charles Brighton, Harrison Miller, Jim Bildner, Kartik Raghavan and Sue Sanderson; in Spain, the organization operates as a registered non-profit foundation validated by the Ministry of Education with the registration number 1361.

Co-founders David Risher and Colin McElwee lead the organization from Barcelona, Spain and San Francisco, California. A mix of private social investors, corporate sponsors, and government agencies including USAID funds the organization.[12]


The organization conducts monitoring and evaluation for impact assessment, develops reading focused out-of-classroom activities and teacher workshops by working with communities and partner organizations, its research shows that students in the e-reader programs improved 94% in mother tongue oral reading fluency after 5 months, and girls in the e-reader programs improved twice as fast in oral reading fluency as girls in neighboring schools, closing an existing gender gap.[13] The Worldreader iREAD 2 project was funded by an All Children Reading grant from USAID, World Vision and AusAid, aimed to improve early grade reading skills for students in Ghana. The project’s final report,[14] in November 2014, showed significant improvements in oral reading fluency, reading comprehension gains, significant impact among low-performing students and development of positive reading habits. Worldreader has shown that reading from the Worldreader Open Library is particularly popular with women, who spend on average 207 minutes reading per month, compared to 32 minutes for men.[15]

Project LEAP, a pilot program implemented by Worldreader in partnership with eight public and community libraries in western Kenya, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examined the use of e-readers in selected libraries to determine how e-readers affect library patronage, communities, staff, policies and procedures. The primary impacts included a threefold increase in library visits, from 10,442 to 29,023 patrons per month, 254 library-initiated community events and 84% of patrons reported increased reading.[16]


2015: Best Mobile Innovation for Education – Worldreader & Opera for Worldreader Mobile [17]


  1. ^ "Video – Katie Linendoll on BrookB". 2012-07-06. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  2. ^ "Worldreader - Over 28,500 e-Books in 43 Languages". Worldreader. Retrieved 2017-01-26. 
  3. ^ "Worldreader: E-books on Cell Phones and Kindles in Schools". Worldreader. Retrieved 2017-01-26. 
  4. ^ Shapiro, Jordan (27 June 2015). "Education Technology Makes The Most Impact In The Least Recognized Places". Forbes. Retrieved 21 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "Worldreader Solar Solution" (PDF). 
  6. ^ "Worldreader: E-Reading Projects in Schools and Libraries". Worldreader. Retrieved 2017-01-27. 
  7. ^ Linendoll, Katie. "E-readers bring hope to Africa's schools". CNN. CNN. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  8. ^ Owen, Laura. "Worldreader counts 500,000 users of its e-reading app on feature phones". Gigaom. Gigaom. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  9. ^ Worldreader and Opera Bring Books to 5 Million Readers in Africa via Mobile Phones Digital Reader. 2 September 2015
  10. ^ Crawshaw, Jo (15 May 2015). "Get free books from Worldreader and Microsoft Math on Opera Mini". Opera. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  11. ^ "US Board Members". Worldreader. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "First Step to Literacy: Getting Books in the Hands of Children". Brookings Institution. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  13. ^ "iREAD 2 Midterm Study Results: All Children Reading in Ghana 2013" (PDF). Worldreader. Worldreader. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  14. ^ "iREAD Study 2012-2014" (PDF). Worldreader. Worldreader. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  15. ^ "Reading in the Mobile Era: A UNESCO study of mobile reading in developing countries" (PDF). UNESCO. 
  16. ^ "Project LEAP Final Report 2015" (PDF). Worldreader. Worldreader. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  17. ^ "Best Mobile Innovation for Education 2015".