Unite for Literacy: What It Is and What Is Its Purpose

Two educators, Mark Condon and Michael McGuffee, had a great dream which led to this amazing project. Although it may appear a regular website, Unite for Literacy is a special one. Today we are going to see what exactly is this website and how it aims to change the world.

What Is Unite for Literacy?

It is a Colorado-based website funded by sponsorship and dedicated to the idea of book abundance. The two initial founders, Condon and McGuffee, declared that they want all children to have access to books. The purpose of the website is to provide inexpensive picture books for children living in marginalized communities, which are culturally and linguistically appropriate. They want to create a huge library of books that celebrate as many cultures as possible, honoring the respective languages. Unite for Literacy tries to achieve the vision through the Wondrously Infinite Global Library, as they named it. If you access it, you will find there over 100 books.

The books are original and designed carefully to connect with families and young children. Moreover, they contain plenty of photos and illustrations to depict the child’s perspective of the real world. Plus, they are structured in such a way to reflect the latest research on the features that impact success for beginning readers of all ages.

Examples of Books

The books are virtually accessible to anybody, if there is an Internet connection, so children can listen to or read them anytime and anywhere. One might say that there are other websites that offer the same service. So, what makes it unique? The thing that differentiates Unite for Literacy is the fact that they address a very diverse range of languages present in classrooms today. As an example, we should have a look at the Counting Sheep book, which includes narration in 10 different languages, such as Chinese, Spanish, and Hindi.

Another book called Can You See the Wind? offers extra languages, such as Korean, Arabic, and Tagalog. However, this is just a small example of what this amazing team can do. Their final goal is to support 300 languages, which is impressive. This opens endless possibilities for discussions for people all over the world.

Other Features

There are other interesting features Unite for Literacy has. One of them is the fact that all the books in the library are original. Moreover, they have a focus on non-fiction. Mark Condon, who is currently the vice president, wrote a blog post and explained that this didn’t happen by accident. The reason for this is the fact that they designed the website to be a tool for children everywhere. As such, non-fiction was a requirement because the books need to be relevant and meaningful across all cultures and continents.

Moreover, there is a variety of topics you can find books for. For example, the My Navajo Taco book talks about unique foods, Let’s Brush Our Teeth explains personal hygiene, and Conservation in Botswana details interesting locales. Besides these cultural aspects, some books explain universal math concepts, such as counting or sorting.

For those who are interested in more than having access to the library, Mark Condon posts several times a month on the blog. He brings up different topics that are applicable to literacy. What’s more, on the Facebook page of Unite for Literacy, you can follow regular updates about their work.

Unite for Literacy Partners

Of course, this organization doesn’t work alone to reach this goal. They work together with plenty of nonprofit, charitable, and cultural institutions that aim to engage the families in their communities. The purpose is to communicate essential messages that will make people take some action to support the cause. Unite for Literacy works with these organizations to offer support, together with services and platforms that will publish their content. What’s more, offering children’s books is a new way of communicating the message.

Moreover, Unite for Literacy sends the books and offers language narration services to the institutions they work with, for them to create a more meaningful interaction with the communities they belong to. Besides, the organization aims to continuously partner with their nonprofit collaborators. They want to identify grants, as well as corporate/private sponsorships for funding. The main need here is to get the physical book to zoo program attendees, schools, and childcare centers. Some examples of partners they have are:

  • Denver Zoo;
  • Mystic Aquarium;
  • Saint Louis Zoo;
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums;
  • Children’s Museum of Denver;
  • National Aviary;
  • Centennial Boces;
  • NEW Zoo, etc.

The Team

Surprisingly, the team behind this project isn’t such a large one. Although it takes a lot of work to design and create the books, there is just a handful of people who set up this opportunity. Here is a short list of their names:

  • Michael McGuffee – CEO
  • Kurt Hoeven – Chairman
  • Mark Condon – VP
  • Holly Hartman – Director of Publishing;
  • James Shelton – Director of Strategy
  • Philip Hicks – Director of Business Development.

What Are They Up to Next?

Even though what they achieved until now seems impressive, Unite for Literacy still has some other plans for their future. One area they want to improve is letting people create their own books at some point in the future. Currently, they work with their partners to develop content for the millions of readers they have. However, many think it would be a great idea to let people craft their own books and stories. The digital aspect of this project facilitates these plans. Speaking of which, the company did receive some criticism for offering digital books, considering that screen time might affect children’s development. They responded that books are part of a proper development for any child, whether digital or on paper.

Here you have a clip with more details about the organization:

Conclusion

Unite for Literacy is an impressive organization that aims to provide children everywhere with books. The books have universal themes and focus on bringing children stories and useful information in their own languages. The ultimate goal for this website is to offer resources in more than 300 languages for kids all over the world.

Image source: depositphotos.com

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