Global illiteracy continues to be a major problem in many countries throughout the developing world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately two out of five Africans can not read or write and lack access to books. American 13-year-old Tatiana Grossman was so moved by learning about this problem that a year ago that she ran a book drive on the lawn of her community’s children’s library in Palo Alto, Calif. to collect thousands of books that now serve 62 schools and villages in Botswana and Lesotho. After the successful campaign, she founded Spread the Words, a nonprofit that helps to increase early literacy around the world by helping children create school libraries in impoverished communities and support the libraries they’ve started.
There is also a component to the nonprofit that looks at bringing a digital curriculum to schools in these communities.
In consultation with open source digital content providers, Silicon Valley tech industry experts and elementary school teachers, Tatiana is developing a small, easy to use, battery-operated electronic device, preloaded with early literacy textbooks, instruction videos, and early readers that will help instill a love for reading in their school communities. Botswana Ministry of Education will be the first to test the prototype Tatiana and her team develops.
Grossman will be honored Nov. 2 as a 2011 Youth Honoree at the World of Children Awards for her work.