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Exciting Times for Reading within Reach: Looking Back, Looking Forward

The past year has been an exciting one for the Reading within Reach (REACH) project and the Global Reading Network community of practice. We accomplished much in our efforts to support global early grade reading education, and even more exciting times are ahead in 2017! Looking back and looking forward, here are a few key highlights from 2016 and early 2017.

International Literacy Day

In September, REACH and partners organized three days of events in Washington, DC, celebrating 50 years of International Literacy Day. After hosting a technical meeting on September 7, GRN members and others participated in events on September 8 co-hosted by USAID and the Library of Congress. On September 9, REACH hosted a day-long event at the United States Institute of Peace, which drew more than 100 participants from across the literacy community. Visit this page on the GRN website to access material from the sessions, which revolved around the theme of “Future Directions: Innovations, Tools and Resources for Global Literacy.” We hope the reflection and dialogue that took place during these ILD events will inform and improve the ever-expanding efforts to improve early grade literacy outcomes globally. 

Enabling Writers Initiative

Reading within REACH is organizing a series of regional Enabling Writers launch events. The Enabling Writers initiative addresses the lack of appropriate books for young readers in developing countries by training teams of local writers to produce hundreds of decodable and leveled books reflecting the cultures and languages of the young people who will read them. The initiative uses SIL International’s Bloom book-writing software, a winner of the All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development competition. A launch event held in Jakarta, Indonesia, in November involved teams from the award-winning organizations from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines. Upcoming regional launch events will be held in Kenya and Haiti in early 2017. We look forward to the ACR awardees producing hundreds of new titles this coming year for early grade readers!

Resources and Professional Development Opportunities

REACH offers a variety of resources to provide community of practice members with valuable information related to early grade reading. Throughout the year, REACH hosted a series of in-person events and online webinars addressing topics such as mother tongue instruction, supporting learning outside of school, the supply chain for educational materials and more. Visit this page on the GRN website to access material from recent webinars and other presentations, and check the website regularly for information about upcoming professional development opportunities.

In addition, all resources produced under the USAID-supported Education Data for Decision Making initiative (EdData II) are now available on the Global Reading Network website. EdData, which was implemented from 2004 to 2016, aimed to improve the accuracy, timeliness, accessibility and use of data for education policy and program planning. You can search the EdData resources by topic, publication type, region and country.

The Landscape Report on Early Grade Literacy, slated for release on January 9, reviews and summarizes available empirical evidence on early grade literacy acquisition and instruction in low-income countries. The report, which was supported by USAID, is designed to provide those supporting, implementing and evaluating early grade reading programs with easily accessible information to help guide program design, as well as identify areas for additional research. Check the Global Reading Network website for more information on the release of the Landscape Report, including future blog posts and a webinar with the authors, which is scheduled for January 12.

An Operational Guide titled Improving Early Grade Reading Outcomes: Implementing and Scaling Up, also is being finalized for publication. The guide uses an implementation science framework to help frame conversation and decisions regarding the design, implementation, sustainability and scale up of early grade reading programs. It is intended for use by Ministry of Education Staff (MOEs), program developers, practitioners and funders in the field of education development. Further information about the guide will be posted on the GRN website as it becomes available.

In 2017, we look forward to developing a comprehensive package of resources to provide GRN members with guidance and tools on early grade literacy program development, implementation and evaluation, as well as providing diverse online and in-person professional development opportunities for the community of practice.

Communications: Newsletters, Blog Posts and More

The Global Reading Network helps community of practice members stayed informed through regular blog posts and a monthly newsletter addressing a wide range of topics. In 2017, we will begin posting news weekly to keep members up to date on early grade reading events and resources.

Help Us Help You

The Global Reading Network exists to support the community of practice in early grade reading throughout the world. In order to support that community most effectively, we need to hear from you. Let us know how we can best serve you. Contact info@globalreadingnetwork.net to share resources of interest, event announcements, blog posts and ideas for topics we might cover.

If you are already part of the community of practice, encourage your colleagues to get involved. If you are not yet involved, we invite you to join. Not only will you have access to a rich array of resources, but you also will become part of a global community of colleagues working to promote effective early grade reading education worldwide. You can join by contacting us at the email address listed above.

Working together, we anticipate a highly successful year in 2017! We appreciate your ongoing support, and we look forward to continuing to find ways to support your work in early grade reading education around the world.



Sakil Malik, Director - Community of Practice