We're delighted to announce that we've completed our third milestone in the "AniBooks for Early Grade Reading" project supported by USAID and READAlliance. Things are happening very quickly!
AniBooks are animated, digitally delivered stories that use PlanetRead founder Brij Kothari's innovation, Same-Language Subtitling (SLS), to help children make advances in reading and critical thinking. The reason AniBooks appeal to students is no surprise: children everywhere like to watch cartoons! And with the addition of SLS, these cartoons are educational, too. Children watch the subtitles and get inescapable, automatic reading practice that helps them become truly literate.
The main goal of the "AniBooks for Early Grade Reading" project is to integrate AniBooks into the schools and lives of children in Grades 1-4 (roughly ages 6-10) to support the development of reading skills. The project targets select schools in the priority Hindi states (Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh), in partnership with organisations that have the experience and infrastructure to distribute and deploy digital content on existing screens in schools and homes.
Where are we so far on this project?
- We've created 20 Hindi-language AniBooks. Among the animated stories newly translated to Hindi are "The Elephant King" ("Haathi Raja"), "The Red Raincoat" ("Laal Barsaati"), and "Topsy Turvy" ("Ulat Palat").
- We've met with reading specialists and educators to determine the types of activities that would be most helpful as accompaniments to the AniBooks, and we've created educational activities in Hindi for the first 10 of our 20 Hindi AniBooks. The activities focus on letters and sounds (for students in lower grades), vocabulary, comprehension, grammar, and problem-solving.
- We've signed agreements with four distribution partners who have the experience and infrastructure to help us distribute AniBooks to children in the priority Hindi states.
We're very excited to get this project underway! We recently did field testing with grades 1-2 at a rural government school to get a sense of the level of understanding among children who have few reading resources available. Learning through association, connecting concepts and ideas, and inferring information are meaningful skills, and children in such schools sometimes have little experience with them. Our lessons were based on the AniBook "Turtle's Flute" in Tamil, and in the first session, we asked the children to draw pictures showing some things they expect from the story.
We've also been testing our newly developed Hindi activities with children who are students of Hindi as a second language and have basic knowledge of reading and writing in Hindi. They watched three stories—"The Greatest Treasure," "The Whispering Palms," and "Too Many Bananas"—and did activities on paper.
These field tests help us understand what children of various backgrounds and educational levels need from the stories and activities we're developing. Stay tuned for more about our findings in future updates from PlanetRead!
We are very excited at the strides we're making toward getting AniBooks in classrooms in India. And, as always, your support helps us immeasurably! Our inexpensive, cost-effective literacy programs make the most of your contributions, and we would be very grateful if you would consider making a donation today.
Field test with children at government school
Activity field tester Joanna
A completed activity from one of our field testers