Photo: Travis Lupick CC by mobile phone

Books On The Mobile Phone Create a Reading Boom

By having a mobile telephone handy, even people in the poorest areas can read books when they want.

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Quality Education

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Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

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Region: Global

Theme: Education

In many of the world’s poorest countries libraries are a rarity, and it can be difficult to access books and teaching resources. However, most people have a mobile phone, and now the mobile phone can be used for reading books. Using a popular reading app, the library has been relocated to the pocket and this creates a zest for reading – especially among young people.

 

Far from the library

With Worldreader Mobile, a piece of mobile technology that enables people to read books on ordinary mobile phones, a new literary world has opened up for many children in developing countries. The new technology makes it possible for people with even simple telephones to retrieve books and read them on the screen. All it takes is a prepaid phone card and an internet connection, something that more and more people have access to.

Lack of access to books, libraries and teaching resources is the reality for many people, and severely hampers reading skills, especially among marginalised and poor population groups. The percentage of people in the world with reading and writing skills is increasing, but there is still some way to go. On average, one out of five adults and one out of eight young people in developing countries are not able to read and write.

The mobile as common property

Today, six billion of the world’s seven billion people have access to a mobile phone, and therefore the opportunity to read books on a phone can potentially have a great impact on global reading proficiencies. A study run by UNESCO among mobile readers in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe shows that being able to read books on the phone has caused the number of reading hours and the love of reading to increase dramatically.

Versatile reading

The phones are not just used for individual reading. Parents read stories to their children, teachers use the mobile phone to read aloud to their pupils in class, and students use it as a supplement to their education. Young people especially use the service, and for young women, who generally have less access to educational materials and books than men, the mobile bookcase has made a huge difference in their reading habits. The next step is to get the older generation to join the wave of mobile reading, so that the positive trend will continue across generations.

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