New Global Prize Competition Seeks to Transform Book Publishing through Innovations that Drive Greater Access to Affordable, High Quality Books and Children’s Reading Materials

The Book Boost: Access for All Challenge Seeks Innovations to Reduce the Cost to Produce Digital Reading Materials, Including Books for Children Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 26, 2017 – All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) and Pearson’s Project Literacy today launched a global prize competition to spur innovation that optimizes the production process for children’s books, thereby reducing costs and making it easier for publishers to produce high-quality reading materials for all children

The Book Boost: Access for All Challenge is expected to increase the worldwide supply of accessible books, particularly for the estimated 19 million children globally who are blind or have low vision, as well as the millions of children with other print disabilities. When children learn to read early in life, they experience improved long-term outcomes in employment, health and lifelong learning. The shortage of quality books in accessible formats is a major barrier to their success in learning to read.

“There are few factors more important to a child’s future than achieving literacy early in life, and there simply are not enough accessible books available to ensure that every child will have access to the materials they need to learn to read,” said Deborah Backus, World Vision’s Senior Program Manager for All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development. “By embracing innovations in the production process, we anticipate a significant increase in the availability of these materials.” 

Proposals for the Book Boost: Access for All Challenge are due January 19, 2018, and will be evaluated against the requirements outlined on the competition website. (A summary of the prize is also available on the website in Arabic, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish and International Sign). Past ACR GCD grantee Benetech will provide two online training sessions for applicants during the competition to ensure proposals meet accessibility guidelines. Up to five innovators will be selected to advance to phase two of the competition and will be awarded funding to build upon their business model. After additional judging, up to two finalists will be awarded seed funding to launch their innovative business model.

All materials produced through the competition will have the specifications to be included in the Global Digital Library, a web-based platform (under development) of reading resources to increase the availability of high quality reading resources in languages children use and understand. The Book Boost: Access for All Challenge and the Global Digital Library further supports the mission of the Global Book Alliance, a multi-stakeholder, international effort working to transform book development, procurement, distribution and usage so that no child is without books.

“In 2016, we set a goal to ensure that 100 percent of our digital products are accessible to learners with print disabilities by 2020,” said Jennifer Young, Director of Global Social Impact Programs at Pearson. “The Book Boost: Access for All Challenge will spur innovation that moves us closer to that goal, and we are proud to be a partner in this competition.”

About All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development, established in 2011 as a partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), World Vision, and the Australian Government, is a series of competitions that leverage science and technology to source, test and disseminate scalable solutions to improve literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries.  For more information, visit

About Pearson

Pearson is the world’s learning company, with expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology. Pearson’s mission is to help people make progress through access to better learning and believes that learning opens up opportunities, creating fulfilling careers and better lives. Pearson founded and convenes Project Literacy, a global coalition-based campaign to make significant and sustainable advances in the fight against illiteracy and to ensure by 2030 all people have the opportunity to fulfill their potential through the power of words. For more information, visit or