Let’s Read is an initiative by the Asia Foundation to bring the joy of reading to children across Asia who otherwise do not have easy access to books.

In many parts of the world “book scarcity” is a major obstacle to social development and literacy because young children who might otherwise learn to read simply don’t have suitable books available to them.
In Myanmar it is estimated only 4% of the country’s 53 million children have books in their home.
Now the Asia Foundation, already operating in eighteen Asian countries, has partnered with the Ministry of Information, the Myanmar Library Association, and Myanmar children’s book publisher Third Story Project to,

foster publishing ecosystems and inspire reading habits that help children, families, and communities thrive.

Stories for children are written, illustrated and translated by volunteers and the products are made available free to read digitally or to print and read on paper via the Asia Foundation’s free digital library. Currently there are 24 languages available including Myanmar, Rakhine, Chin, and Kachin.

A child’s passion for reading better predicts their academic success than their family’s socioeconomic status. To experience the full benefits of reading, children need books that reflect their own lives and books that introduce them to the world. Let’s Read Myanmar is committed to building a robust library of local language books through local publishing and translation to ensure that children have books that will act as both mirrors and windows and enable them to benefit from The Book Effect.
Today, the Let’s Read Myanmar collection includes brand new stories written and illustrated by book creators in Myanmar that celebrate diversity and inclusion. The collection also includes Girl Power in Myanmar, illustrated by local artists, telling the stories of brave and influential women throughout the history of the nation. With support from the Myanmar Library Association and their volunteer networks, children can enjoy books created by Let’s Read communities across Asia translated into Myanmar language.
Let’s Read builds a world where curious and educated readers create thriving societies. We bring together the talent of local partners and the power of technology to create and translate relatable children’s books while nurturing reading habits that enable children to reach important developmental milestones, families to share stories that affirm their culture, and communities to benefit from the contributions of all their members.

Read more here.
The bigger picture here is the proliferation of mobile-phone-based free-reading sites aimed at young children that is creating the next generation of digital-first readers, many of whom will have little or no experience of the tactile pleasures of a paper and ink book, and for whom reading on screen is not a novelty or an option but simply how things have always been.
To understand the transformative power potential of digital for less-advantaged young readers, take a look at this video of the Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read Cambodia operation.
Publishers investing now in future generations will reap the rewards as these little readers grow up to become the future years’ Middle Grade, YA and adult consumers.

See the video on the Asia Foundation site here.