The Asia Foundation Distributes Over 300,000 Children's Books to Asia

San Francisco-based Books for Asia, established in 1954 by The Asia Foundation, is contributing over 300,000 children's books to eight Asian countries. Schools, community libraries, and child care centers in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Mongolia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand will receive the brand-new books donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (, which were procured by Brother's Brother Foundation (

Eight shipping containers have departed the United States and are scheduled to arrive at Asian ports next month with two more containers to follow. There, teams of Books for Asia staff will sort each shipment and work with local partners to ensure that the books are delivered to the schools, reading centers, and libraries with the greatest need.

In parts of Asia, high illiteracy rates affect millions, while educators and librarians face enormous hurdles securing resources for students who want to better their lives through education. Many libraries are in disrepair, collections are often out-of-date, and access to English-language books is limited. Without the tools to learn English – the international language of commerce and advanced degree-level education – millions of students in Asia are unable to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by a rapidly changing world. The special shipment of children's books will help a new generation of readers and thinkers to become tomorrow's leaders and innovators.

For over 50 years, Books for Asia has responded to this critical need by providing new texts and educational resources to schools, universities, public libraries, non-governmental organizations, and other institutions in remote and impoverished parts of 17 countries in Asia every year.

"The Books for Asia program is making impressive contributions across Asia," said Books for Asia Director Melody Zavala, "and the demand for English books continues to grow. For example, last year in Afghanistan, we distributed nearly 60,000 books and materials to 48 primary and secondary schools and 22 universities. And in Mongolia, where Books for Asia is the only regular donor of English language books, a mobile library has delivered more than 72,000 books in all 21 of Mongolia's provinces, making six trips covering more than 16,200 kilometers (over 10,000 miles) to the country's most remote areas."

In places like the Philippines, where the Books program has operated for over 50 years, The Asia Foundation has provided more than 12 million books throughout the island nation, and in recent years, has sent the majority of donations to schools and libraries in Mindanao, the poorest region of the Philippines where literacy rates are substantially lower than in the rest of the country.

For 2008, Books for Asia is on track to surpass last year's record of providing 974,000 books and educational materials valued at $33 million throughout Asia. Books for Asia relies on the generosity of publishers for quality donations and on The Asia Foundation's in-country staff to facilitate local distribution.