Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to frequently-asked questions about the Global Storybooks literacy initiative.

Why read stories from Africa?

While many of the stories in the Global Storybooks collection have their origins in Africa, the content is universal in theme. Reading stories from the Global South promotes cultural understanding and provides the opportunity for students to become global citizens and learn about other cultures.

Why are so many of the stories from the African Storybook?

The African Storybook initiative makes hundreds of stories freely available under the Creative Commons license, providing picture storybooks for children’s literacy, enjoyment and imagination. We are grateful to the South African organization, Saide, for making these wonderful stories freely available under an open license. If you are looking for more resources, please note that there are also a wide variety of other stories from different parts of the world available through the Global Storybooks Portal.

What makes Global Storybooks unique?

Global Storybooks is unique in that it offers stories in a large number of languages with both text and audio. Audio stories help children to learn to read, because they connect sound to symbol. The website also allows users to toggle between two languages so readers can easily see the translation one page at a time.

How can teachers use Global Storybooks to improve reading fluency?

The only limit is your imagination! For example, teachers can assign stories that all students can read regardless of their reading ability, or primary language. Global Storybooks offers stories in both text and audio format so students can listen and read simultaneously, and/or toggle between two languages. One story can be used for as many languages as are present in a given classroom.

How can teachers use Global Storybooks as a homework resource?

Teachers can send home both reading and writing assignments centred around stories that both parents and children can read and understand. Research shows not only that parent involvement in schools contributes to children’s academic success, but also that parent involvement with homework makes a difference in children’s lives.

How can parents use Global Storybooks?

Global Storybooks is a useful tool for home that values and celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity. This affords the opportunity for parents of all language backgrounds to read together with their children who might otherwise not have been able to follow a story with English-only text.

Can more stories be added to Global Storybooks?

Global Storybooks is designed to be a carefully curated collection of 40 interlinked stories with text and audio. Other websites, such as Storyweaver and African Storybook, offer more multilingual stories. Click here to learn more about translating or writing your own stories.

Where can I find my language on the site?

Each of the local or regional websites is designed around a carefully chosen list of languages that are most relevant for the users of the site. If you can't find the language you are looking for in the site menu, try searching for it on our languages page, which lists all of the languages and where you can find them. You can search for the language you are looking for in English or using the local name, and there are convenient links directly to the stories you can read in that language.

Why is my language not included in the dropdown menu on the site?

In general, only languages that have audio recordings available are listed in the dropdown menu for each site. This is to prevent confusion when selecting a language and then being unable to hear the corresponding audio. Once audio has been recorded for a language, the link can be added to the dropdown menu. However, a full list of all of the available languages on each site can be found by clicking on the "About" menu and then selecting "Languages". If you still can't find the language you are looking for, you can also try searching for it on our languages page, which lists all of the languages on all of the regional websites. If you notice that there is audio missing for your language and you are interested in recording the stories being read aloud, we welcome you to get in contact with us to help you get started with the recording process.

How are Reading Levels assigned within Global Storybooks?

LevelDescriptionWords per story
Level 1One or two short, simple sentences per pageUp to 75 words
Level 2A few sentences per page76–250 words
Level 3A short paragraph per page251–500 words
Level 4One paragraph per page501–799 words
Level 5A long paragraph per page800 words or more

Can I reuse the content on Global Storybooks for other purposes?

Global Storybooks is an open source project, and all content on this site has been released under an open license. You can find more detailed information on our Source page.

Are there only stories for children? What about adults?

Adult learners can certainly benefit from reading children's stories as well, but we also have a collection of stories aimed specifically at adult readers. These stories can be found on the dedicated LIDA Stories Portal.

Are the stories on this site translated by a machine?

No, there has been no machine translation involved in preparing the material for this site. All of the stories on Global Storybooks have been translated individually by human translators from around the world. The translations are then carefully proofread and edited by multiple speakers of the respective languages before being audio recorded and added to our main Change language dropdown menu. You can find links to repositories containing the text of all of our translations on our Source page.

Where can I learn more about the project?

We have written an article in The Conversation which details the background of the project and the team behind it which you can read here.

See also here for an interview with Dr. Bonny Norton, a professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada.