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Room to Read’s REACH Project in South Africa (English)

The REACH Project in South Africa was designed to address South Africa’s two significant challenges in providing storybooks for young readers. First, the book supply chain fails to provide adequate quantity and quality of early-grade storybooks in languages other than English and Afrikaans. Limited government budgets and complex procurement systems make it difficult for committed government officials to purchase enough of the right books at the right time for schools. The same procurement systems inhibit commercial publishers from broadening the languages in which they publish. Second, the current supply chain emphasizes formal classroom material (textbooks and readers) over books for enjoyment. Reading for pleasure is widely cited as key to developing lifelong readers and educated adults. Yet, when curricular ties and tightly leveled text become the focus of development, high-interest storylines and high-quality illustrations often suffer. Many publishers could also benefit from additional capacity building to further understand and be able to develop imaginative stories, where the text and illustrations work seamlessly together. Room to Read was uniquely positioned to lead the development of reading-for-pleasure books in South Africa, given extensive organizational experience in collaborating with governments and in publishing engaging and relevant storybooks in underserved South African languages, and in other languages throughout the world. Through the REACH Project, Room to Read could respond to the gap in quality storybooks on the market, address the critical need for an increased focus on reading material in African languages, and clarify the important distinction between storybooks and readers, all of which are essential to facilitate a sustained habit of reading in South African children. Further, these efforts are essential to inform policy decisions about the types of books needed to transform the lives of children.


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    Working Paper

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    South Africa,

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  • Doc Name

    Room to Read’s REACH Project in South Africa

  • Keywords

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Room to Read’s REACH Project in South Africa (English). Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.