"Stories are more than a gentle escape. They are a life raft."
– Pam Allyn
LitWorld was founded in 2007 after our Executive Director, Pam Allyn, renowned literacy educator and author, visited Kibera, an area of extreme poverty in Nairobi, Kenya. There, she experienced the urgent desire children had to read, write and share their stories, the barriers that stood in their way, and the amazing power of literacy to remove those barriers.
Inspired after her first visit to Kibera, Pam returned to New York and mobilized a group of friends and leaders to join her in building a new movement founded on the belief that literacy is a universal human right. They set out to create a movement designed not only to further basic literacy, but to further productive, transformational literacy defined by dreams that can come true.
We realized early on that people’s own stories are humankind's greatest resource, and that these stories are the key to creating social change. We recognized that training people who are driven to strengthen their home communities is the best way to meet the needs of as many young people as possible. From those early days, LitWorld has continued to create empowering programs that work locally and globally.
In 2010, we launched two programs that stand today as LitWorld's core models: LitClubs and World Read Aloud Day. The LitClub model of in-depth, out-of-school literacy and empowerment programming, has allowed us to bring our innovative methods to communities in 25 countries across 5 continents. Children’s stories of learning, growth and achievement pour in every day. From the girl in Kenya who is no longer afraid to raise her hand and speak up in school to the boy in India who now wants to grow up to be someone who helps people to the young woman in New York City who is the first in her family to go to college: This is the LitWorld story.
At the same time, we have grown World Read Aloud Day from a simple yet bold call to action to a program that rallies over 18 million people online and over 1 million people across 100 countries through community events. People eagerly await the arrival of World Read Aloud Day and we celebrate their innovative ways of taking action. From the girl in Haiti marching down her street with a sign advocating for her right to read, to the boy in Iowa hearing his favorite author read to his class over video chat, to the mother in the Philippines proudly listening to her daughter read aloud for the first time: This is the LitWorld story.
We continue to deepen, expand and scale our big ideas and refine our programs through our newest initiatives with Story21 focusing on integrating technology into our programs and the HerStory Campaign focusing on our support for women and girls. New chapters of the LitWorld story unfold every day. We welcome you to “Be the Story” with us.