One year ago, you chose to support the publication of a unique, girl-focused children's book in Sri Lanka, titled "Thamara's Surprise Birthday Party." While this book provides young students with a book that is tailored to their learning level and will help foster a love and habit of reading, it also does much more: it provides young Sri Lankan girls with a unique story book that is culturally relevant, written in her local language, and features a girl as the main character.
We conservatively estimate that for every book distributed, one child is benefited. 2,300 copies of this book have been distributed to date, and we can assume that one half of the students reading this book are girls. Additionally, the publication of this book directly affected the book's author, who is female.
Estimated girls & women affected
We estimate that this book has indirectly affected hundreds of individuals - both male and female - in the community. This impact includes families, whose daughters and sons will have access to culturally relevant children's books, as well as community members and teachers who will have access to these educational resources as well. While our Research, Monitoring and Evaluation team does not collect data on indirect beneficiaries, we can assume that for every child benefited by this book, there is at least one parent or community member affected as well, resulting in 1,150 indirect beneficiaries.
Estimated community members affected
One year ago, you chose to support the publication of a unique, girl-focused children's book in Sri Lanka, titled "Thamara's Surprise Birthday Party." While this book provides young students with a book that is tailored to their learning level and will help foster a love and habit of reading, it also does much more: it provides young Sri Lankan girls with a unique story book that is culturally relevant, written in her local language, and features a girl as the main character. It provides young girls with a literary character with whom she can relate. Over the course of the last year, Room to Read's Book Publishing team in Sri Lanka worked with local authors and illustrators to write, illustrate, and edit the book. Once that process was completed, our teams published 6,000 copies of the book. Since our last report, our teams have distributed 2,300 copies of "Thamara's Surprise Birthday Party" to Room to Read schools and libraries. In September 2014, our teams distributed 2,260 copies to Room to Read libraries in Sri Lanka. In June 2014, we distributed 43 copies to Room to Read classrooms. Additionally, through this project, Catapult supported the whole Sri Lanka Book Publishing program, which published 23 unique, local language children's books in 2013. An average of 1,300 copies of each title was printed, thereby positive impacting the lives of 29,900 children in Sri Lanka.
In this report, we are pleased to share the dedication language included in "Thamara's Surprise Birthday Party." As you can see in photo X, this language is included in the front of all book copies. "This book is dedicated to the children of Sri Lanka so that the joy of reading may enrich their lives. It is published thanks to the generous donations Catapult supporters, in recognition of their commitment to promoting equality for girls and literacy learning around the world."
Risks and challenges
While our Book Publishing team can sometimes experience delays that come from design and equipment challenges in-country, our team did not experience any challenges or delays thus far in the writing and printing of “Thamara's Surprise Birthday Party.” All 6,000 copies were printed, and the first two rounds of books were distributed, as scheduled.
What we’ve learned
After fourteen years, Room to Read is considered an expert in the fields of literacy and girls' education. To-date, we have published 163 unique children's books in Sri Lanka, and feel confident in our ability to publish quality content that is produced by local authors and illustrators, is culturally relevant, and age-appropriate for the students reading the books. The process for publishing "Thamara's Surprise Birthday Party" was seamless, and we thank the Catapult network profoundly for enabling us to publish a book that will be treasured and valued by young girls and boys in Sri Lanka.
Our teams look forward to distributing the remaining copies of "Thamara's Surprise Birthday Party," both to Room to Read schools and libraries, as well as other non-profit organizations and government schools in Sri Lanka. Our team in Sri Lanka will continue to publish unique, local language children's books that will help girls foster a love of reading, as well as provide them with resources that promote girls' education.
Amount spent so far
Manuscript preparation and printing costs
Conferences, workshops and field testing
Program personnel and travel
General Book Publishing program expenses
As mentioned in Next Steps, there are still 3,700 copies of "Thamara's Surprise Birthday Party" that will be distributed in Sri Lanka. Through these remaining copies, 3,700 children will be directly impacted, thanks to Catapult donors' generous support. Thank you!
Room to Read recently launched our Medium.com page, where we share stories from both our Literacy and Girls' Education programs. We frequently publish new stories from the field. We encourage you to spend some time reading about the students benefiting from Room to Read's programs: https://medium.com/@RoomtoRead
”Thamara's Surprise Party:” A unique children's book in Sri Lanka
June 30, 2014
During the reporting period, Room to Read worked with the book’s authors to edit and finalize the manuscript for “Thamara’s Surprise Party,” a book designed for young readers. After finalizing the manuscript, we partnered with local design firms to complete the layout of the book. When looking at the design and layout of our Book Publishing stories, our team focuses on word placement, size, and proportions. Early-grade readers often respond most favorably to books that feature large text, with few words per page, and images that dominate the space. This layout tends to prevent students from becoming overwhelmed or intimidated when attempting to read a new story and creates the greatest opportunity for success. In March 2014, after finalizing the design, our team printed 6,000 copies. We estimate that for every book printed, one child is benefited. Through this model, Catapult supporters have benefited at least 6,000 children through this book – thank you!
Risks and challenges
While our Book Publishing team can sometimes experience delays that come from design and equipment challenges in-country, our team did not experience any challenges or delays thus far in the writing and printing of “Thamara's Surprise Party.” All 6,000 copies were printed as scheduled. We look forward to updating you on our progress as we begin book distribution in the next few months.
"The libraries in one child’s room here [the United States] are equivalent to -- sometimes even more than -- what we can provide in some libraries in the developing world. It’s really amazing to be able to create books for kids who just wouldn’t have the opportunity to read in their own language otherwise.” - Alisha Berger, Room to Read's Book Publishing Expert.
In the coming months, our teams will distribute these copies to Room to Read libraries, literacy instruction classrooms, and select non-governmental organizations and government partners. We look forward to providing you with detailed information on the number of books distributed and the schools and government partners to which we distribute books.
1,000 Book Titles by the Numbers: This infographic was created to celebrate Room to Read's 1000th unique published book, and shows the profound impact that the books in our program have - as well as all the work that goes into book publication.
“Thamara’s Surprise Party,” a girl centered storybook, strengthens Sri Lankan girls’ language skills while encouraging and fostering their imagination.
Why we care: Lack of high-quality, age-appropriate, and culturally-appropriate children’s books is one of greatest challenges for girls growing up in Sri Lanka. Partly, the situation has worsened due to the effects of Sri Lanka’s recent civil war.
How we’re solving this: Room to Read is raising funds for our Book Publishing program in Sri Lanka, through which we will publish a girl-focused children’s book, “Thamara’s Surprise Party.”
We use local content sources, lead writer and illustrator workshops and field-test the manuscripts for each book published. Room to Read believes it is important for girls to have books in their own language that feature female characters they can look up to and with whom they can identify.
In order for children to acquire literacy skills and become lifelong readers and learners, they need access to a variety of texts, the opportunity to read independently, and a choice in what to read.
While classroom and school libraries are essential for providing the space to support voluntary reading, it is also crucial that classroom and school libraries have local language reading materials. These local language books and reading materials strengthen language skills, encourage children's imagination, and foster their understanding of themes and ideas that are relevant to their everyday lives.
This project will support our Book Publishing program’s work in Sri Lanka, as well as help raise funds necessary to support the publication of an original, girl-focused storybook in Sri Lanka. To ensure that our Book Publishing team publishes high-quality, gender-sensitive, culturally relevant, and entertaining, educational titles, we complete the following activities:
- Source book content locally: Local authors and illustrators ensure the content for each book is both fun and culturally relevant for young readers. Some stories are based on local folklore and traditions, while others are entirely original—created just for Room to Read. All books are also sourced, written, illustrated and published in the countries where we work, supporting the local publishing industry. “Thamara’s Surprise Party” was written and illustrated by local individuals from Sri Lanka and is written in the Sri Lankan language Sinhala.
- Host and lead writer and illustrator workshops: Room to Read recruits new authors and illustrators through open calls advertised in the local paper and through universities. We then select the best submissions and invite them to professional development workshops where they are introduced to the basic concepts of creating storybooks and can engage in facilitated peer review of each other’s manuscripts and illustrations. All of our workshops include discussions on gender sensitivity, which helps to ensure that all the books we publish are appropriate and relevant for both girls and boys. For many of the writers and artists we work with, the workshops are their first foray into children’s literature, so the opportunity to experiment and to garner feedback from other professionals is valuable. Both the author and the illustrator of “Thamara’s Surprise Party” were solicited at Writer and Illustrator Workshops, respectively.
- Field-test manuscripts: Our staff often field-tests the books with local children, who provide comments on plot, character development, language and general suitability for the target age group. Field-testing our manuscripts helps ensure that these titles are appropriate and entertaining for the children who will be reading them.
The funds go toward ensuring that our teams publish the best books possible, including funding for author and illustrator conferences and workshops, manuscript preparation, printing costs, field-testing, and program travel costs.
Room to Read’s Book Publishing program is committed to providing all children with materials that will inspire them to read and expand their minds, as well as providing girls with books that highlight female main characters and provide strong female characters with whom they can identify.
Room to Read has successfully published 887 titles in 27 languages in 10 countries. Our titles have been internationally recognized for their quality and the impact they have shown on children's reading habits.
Your support through this project will provide female students with the resources they need to become skilled and passionate readers, and will help ensure that girls have access to books that feature girls just who are just like them. With your help, we can continue to provide young readers with creative, engaging books that help foster a life-long love of reading.