Fortune's First Read-Aloud

We have the privilege of sharing this beautiful story from our LitClub partner ”Zambia Go Ye Therefore” in Livingstone and Lusaka, Zambia. LitClubs in Zambia are thriving as evidenced from this story shared by our Partnership Coordinator, Sanyambe:

"[LitClub member] Fortune did his first ever "read aloud" with a book he chose "Finding a Home". He never knew how to spell his name before but now he is full of hope and is trying!"

Here’s a lovely picture of Fortune in all his post read aloud glory. Congratulations & shooting stars to Fortune, Sanyambe, Zambia Go Ye Therefore, and all the other young readers taking big strides in their learning lives. Your confidence and hard work inspire us every day!

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Food as Culture Project: Food as Story, Food as Legacy

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LitWorld is excited to announce a new Food and Culture project we will be working on this spring! Food is such an integral and important part of our stories, and we all have memories, recipes and anecdotes of those favorite (or least favorite!) dishes that we grew up with - in our homes, our celebrations, our daily lives, whether prepared by family members, in local restaurants or passed through generations for you to cook!

The first food we are learning about is simple - EGGS! Do you have traditions surrounding eating and preparing eggs? Do you have a delicious recipe from your life that you would like to share with us? 

We are looking to highlight how this common and nutritious food touches communities all over the world, so please send us your anecdotes, recipes, pictures or even videos of eggs being prepared or served at different times in your community or home.

Share your recipes & culinary stories on social media @litworldsays on Twitter, @litworld on Instagram, and facebook.com/litworld.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Library on the Coast: The Explosive Growth of LitClubs in the Philippines

We are constantly in awe of our partner, Project PEARLS, based in Manila, Philippines. Their dedication to literacy for all, and ability to mobilize huge public support for the cause is incredible. Project PEARLS mission is to help the poorest of the poor children in the Philippines have a better life through education, empowerment, nutrition, healthcare service.

Their talk translates to action. This year, they organized a march through Manila in celebration of World Read Aloud Day, where hundreds of folks came together to advocate for literacy and celebrate the boundless power of the read aloud.

Project PEARLS led and organized this march in Manila on World Read Aloud Day 2019.

Project PEARLS led and organized this march in Manila on World Read Aloud Day 2019.

Last week, Project PEARLS travelled 8 hours to the Library on the Coast in Daet, Camarines Norte, Philippines. They trained 5 new LitClub mentors and have 22 students ready to join!

Congratulations to Project PEARLS, and thank you for your unending support for LitWorld, LitClubs, and literacy throughout the world!

New LitClub members in Daet, Camarines Norte, Philippines.

New LitClub members in Daet, Camarines Norte, Philippines.

New LitClub members sharing their heart maps.

New LitClub members sharing their heart maps.

Why Diverse Fantasy Fiction Matters

“Speculative fiction is powerful because it provides an unrestricted playground for our imaginations, a test site to explore our impulses and examine the consequences of them.”

Lagoon  by Nnedi Okorafor.

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor.

Written by Amber Peterson, Director of Programming Innovation at LitWorld

I have been a self-proclaimed nerd all of my life. My childhood was shaped by Lloyd Alexander and Terry Pratchett, and the opening sequence of Star Trek, The Next Generation will always bring with it feelings of security and comfort.

For me, science fiction and fantasy provided much needed portals of solace and escape. As one of a handful of black children bussed to an almost exclusively white suburban school, I spent my formative years feeling very much like an outsider. It was in those stories that I found the celebration of otherness I craved; the person who stood out ended up saving the day and he or she was always ultimately embraced.

Growing up black in America, I understood that the characters in the stories I loved didn’t and wouldn’t look like me. While the heroes were always in some way different from the rest of their community, they were never so different as to be black. The good vs. evil dichotomy generally employed in these narratives was often underscored by an parallel association with light vs. dark, an association that extended to skin color.  As such, I expected that if any characters did have a melanin count similar to mine, they would likely be villains.

The first time I questioned the certainty of this rule was upon reading A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin in 5th grade. The red-brown skinned protagonist was a revelation and opened my mind to the extraordinary possibility of seeing myself reflected positively in the stories that defined so much of my identity. My subsequent discovery of authors like Octavia Butler, Walter Mosley, and Nalo Hopkinson shattered the rigid boundaries I perceived and represented my initiation into the burgeoning enclaves of diverse, imaginative fiction.

There has been much recent attention focused on the need for diversity in literature. It is absolutely essential that we see stories that normalize the incredible heterogeneity of the lived experiences of people of color. The recent increase and success of books proudly centering minority characters cleanly shatters the age old axiom that those books do not sell. Especially in the realms of children’s realistic fiction and narrative nonfiction, I believe we’re slowly but surely beginning to see progress.

Despite this, speculative fiction- fiction with supernatural, futuristic, or other imaginative elements-  is being left behind. Even as pop-culture adopts a decidedly speculative slant with the success of superhero franchises, dystopian epics, and legions of supernatural fandoms, people of color remain markedly underrepresented in the genre. Notable exceptions, such as the unprecedented success of Marvel’s Black Panther film, illustrate the hunger for representative speculative stories and the vast audiences eager to consume them.

Speculative fiction is powerful because it provides an unrestricted playground for our imaginations, a test site to explore our impulses and examine the consequences of them. It allows us to paint a picture of the world, not as it is, but as it could be. If these stories take us into our dreams and help us imagine the moral implications and literal possibilities of our future, than what does it say if people of color are not present? What does it mean if people of color are not included as the boundaries of what could be are tested, shifted, and dissolved?


Speculative fiction writers of color and speculative fiction stories featuring characters of color do exist. N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, Tomi Adeyemi, Victor LaValle, Daniel José Older and Priya Sharma are just a few of the writers who are redefining the genre and have been for years. It’s essential that we amplify their voices and provide platforms to celebrate diversity as we explore the unknown and push the boundaries of our imaginations.