Let’s Read! Digital Library Brings Children’s Books to Indonesia

The Asia Foundation enables access to quality books and community-powered translation

Jakarta, September 5, 2017 — In the archipelago of Indonesia, especially among remote and underserved communities, quality children’s books are rare commodities. Limited access to early-grade content is a barrier to literacy, academic success, and fostering a lifelong love of reading among children. The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program, in conjunction with local partner Litara Foundation, is working to remove that barrier through the Let’s Read! project, a free children’s digital library and translation platform accessible online and via Android app.

The project features an innovative translation tool that “crowd sources” translations from community members and empowers citizens to expand local content digital libraries. This is particularly vital for Indonesia, a country of more than 700 diverse languages. Speakers of minority languages face challenges gaining access to children’s books in their mother tongue, which in turn makes it difficult for their children to succeed in school, where Bahasa Indonesia is the language of instruction. The first step toward making books available in minority languages is making them available in Bahasa Indonesia. At a recent event in Bandung, the project brought together 35 translators from across Java, where they received training in children’s book publishing and translation, then proceeded to translate 36 books from English to Bahasa Indonesia, using the Let’s Read! translation tool.

“We hope that the translation event in Bandung is only the beginning,” says Sandra Hamid, The Asia Foundation’s Indonesia country representative. “By harnessing technology, creating an inclusive community of translators, and providing them with this unique tool, we envision many more books being translated from English to Bahasa Indonesia, as well as to Javanese, Sundanese, Toraja, Minahasa, Manggarai, and more. That, in turn, will help address the crucial scarcity of children’s books and make sure Indonesian children develop critical literacy skills and a lifelong love of reading.”

Today, at the Indonesia International Book Fair, The Asia Foundation (TAF) is announcing the Indonesia launch of Let’s Read! at an event, “You, Technology, and TAF Can Make Quality Children’s Books Accessible to All: Introducing Let’s Read!” (Jakarta Convention Center, Lobby Stage, 7:00 pm). Representatives of The Asia Foundation will be showcasing the Let’s Read! platform throughout the fair at the Let’s Read! booth (#92).

Indonesian publishers, educational institutions, NGOs, and other agencies—including Mizan Publishing House, Seru Setiap Saat, Institute of Technology Bandung, UNICEF, Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi RI, and Yayasan Tunas Aksara—are supporting The Let’s Read initiative with high quality children’s titles. The project has collected more than 100 Indonesian books, translated 36 international books into Bahasa Indonesia, and created 9 brand new titles—all of which will join a library of more than 200 children’s books in seven languages and scripts.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our programs address critical issues affecting Asia in the 21st century—governance and law, economic development, women’s empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation.

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

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