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28 June 2017– The Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read! initiative has released eight new, vibrantly illustrated children’s books with the theme “Girls Can Do Anything.” The Khmer-language collection features strong female leading characters who overcome obstacles with courage and ingenuity. In the stories, the female characters build a flying contraption to save the sun, dissuade aliens from building an iron city on a beautiful island, devise a plan to scare away a wicked crow, and a host of other adventures.

Cambodian writers, illustrators, and graphic designers from a variety of backgrounds joined forces during a one-day storybook “hackathon” to create the original illustrated stories. In addition to stimulating the creation of high-quality children’s books, the project aims to cultivate and motivate children’s book professionals. Smart Axiata, Cambodia leading operator and the main sponsor of Let’s Read!, provided smartphone prizes to hackathon participants in the following categories: Best Hackathon Team, Best Illustrator, Best Writer and Role Model of the Day. (Insert Photos below with names of winners in the caption).

The books are available for download for free from the Let’s Read! Khmer E-Books website, Krou Cambodia, OER Cambodia, and other digital libraries. They are licensed under a non-commercial Creative Commons license, enabling anyone to adapt or reuse the content.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata congratulated Asia Foundation and the winners for the release of the latest e-books. “As the main partner of this program, we are very proud of the Cambodian writers, illustrators and graphic designers for coming together to release these e-books, which will be available for free on many digital libraries. We at Smart believe that digital is the future! I hope these e-books and the future ones will inspire many Cambodian readers and more developers to be involved in this initiative.”

The hackathon series aims to catalyze greater interest in reading by making fun, engaging children’s books more widely available and attracting talent to the local publishing industry. Twelve books have been produced since its launch in Cambodia in September 2016, and another 8 books themed “STEM for Kids” will be created at an August hackathon.

The Let’s Read! initiative makes high-quality books available for children to read anytime, anywhere in languages they use at home and school. Its digital platform and easy-to-use tools empower communities to effectively, efficiently, and inclusively create and access their own libraries.

Read more information about the Let’s Read! initiative.

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