Morgan Belveal is inspired to challenge the status quo for children around the world. With degrees in children’s studies, interdisciplinary studies in human development, and international educational development from Eastern Washington University and University of Pennsylvania, Belveal is the Program Specialist for The Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read initiative.
The Power of the Book Effect to Mobilize Illiterate Communities
Across Asia the gap between intergenerationally illiterate communities and the constellation of opportunities afforded by books is at best intimidating and at worst oppressive. Just as millions of people are “leapfrogging” obsolete technologies for modern tools, The Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read initiative uses strategies to build reading movements that harness technology while appealing to the humanity that drives learning.
While literacy rates are climbing for most people in the world, the intergenerational illiteracy in the world’s poorest communities is widening the divide between the urban centers of Asia and children living in last mile communities. Every generation of children raised in a community without access to literacy not only increases the need for innovative literacy solutions in those communities, but also further weakens the community’s understanding of the benefits of reading. Over time, it becomes exponentially more important and exponentially more difficult to build a reading movement.
We know the benefits of books permeate every ecosystem of a child’s life. The Book Effect ripples across each of the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals and through every generation of a community. Children who develop a love of reading are more likely to read better, write better, build their vocabulary and comprehend more in their reading. Sharing books in a household and talking with children about these stories supports their emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and social development. Even more, reading children become reading adults who are more likely to be employed and better able to contribute to local economies leading to future generations who do the same.
Since 2016, The Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read initiative has worked with the strength of local communities and the power of cutting-edge technology to build locally driven book supply chains while increasing the demand for high quality children’s books. Together, during this presentation, we will explore strategies the initiative uses to publish and translate local language children’s books while building a reading movement that amplifies The Book Effect in Asia’s intergenerationally illiterate communities.