Girls Empowerment Storybook Collection Now Available from Let’s Read!

July 3, 2017 — The Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read! initiative has released eight new, vibrantly illustrated children’s books with the theme “Girls Can Do Anything.” The Khmer-language collection features strong female lead characters who overcome obstacles with courage and ingenuity. In the stories, the female characters build a flying contraption to save a village, dissuade aliens from building an iron city on a beautiful island, devise a plan to scare away a wicked crow, and a host of other adventures.

Cambodian writers, illustrators, and graphic designers from a variety of backgrounds joined forces during a one-day storybook “hackathon” to create the original illustrated stories. In addition to stimulating the creation of high-quality children’s books, the project aims to cultivate and motivate children’s book professionals. Smart Axiata, Cambodia’s leading telecommunications provider and the main sponsor of Let’s Read!, provided smartphone prizes to hackathon participants in the following categories: Best Hackathon Team, Best Illustrator, Best Writer and Role Model of the Day.

In attendance were Smart CEO, Thomas Hundt; Acting Country Representative Edward Anderson; hackathon winners; and the teams from Smart and The Asia Foundation.

The books are available for download for free from the Let’s Read! Khmer E-Books website, Krou Cambodia, OER Cambodia, and other digital libraries. They are licensed under a non-commercial Creative Commons license, enabling anyone to adapt or reuse the content.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, congratulated The Asia Foundation and the winners for the release of the latest e-books. “As the main partner of this program, we are very proud of the Cambodian writers, illustrators, and graphic designers for coming together to release these e-books, which will be free on many digital libraries. We at Smart Axiata believe that digital is the future! I hope these e-books and the future ones with such powerful themes will inspire many Cambodian readers and more developers to be involved in this initiative.”

The Let’s Read! hackathon series aims to catalyze greater interest in reading by making fun, engaging children’s books more widely available and attracting talent to the local publishing industry. Twelve books have been produced since its launch in Cambodia in September 2016, and another 8 books themed “STEM for Kids” will be created at an August hackathon.

The Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read! initiative makes high-quality books available for children to read anytime, anywhere in languages they use at home and school. Its digital platform and easy-to-use tools empower communities to effectively, efficiently, and inclusively create and access their own libraries.

Since 1954, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program has donated print books to thousands of needy educational institutions in 21 Asian countries each year. While print remains the most effective means of delivering information in many parts of the developing world, mobile technology’s increasing affordability suggests e-books hold the promise of becoming a cost-effective, scalable model.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

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Related locations: Cambodia
Related programs: Books for Asia
Related topics: Let's Read! Asia

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Amy Ovalle, Chief Communications Officer
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415-743-3318