Reading app that distributes stories in mother tongue languages, helping to improve children's literacy rates.

Past and Current Partners

Schmidt Futures Prize, TheirWorld, UiPath Foundation, Imbuto Foundation, Save The Children, Partners in Health, The Aga Khan Foundation East Africa (AKF), Zanmi Lasante and Summits Education, Globe Telecom, UNICEF Australia, OvidiuRo

Active Countries
Romania, Rwanda, Kenya, Haiti
Thematic area(s)
Organisation Name

The Problem

Literacy is a prerequisite for eradicating poverty, yet globally there is a severe shortage of local language books at the early grade levels. As a result, 250M children are leaving school without being able to read, rendering them extremely vulnerable to social and economic exploitation.

The Solution

NABU's solution is to make children's books free, and to champion mother tongue stories. Their vision is to build an inclusive, diverse, and community-centric global and local storytelling platform. When children can read in their local language first, they grow in confidence, and literacy levels shoot up. By offering training for writers and illustrators, NABU creates original local language books that support children in learning how to read. is a free reading app that can distribute children's books to millions of readers globally.

How it works?

  • Step 1: The Authentic Book Creation Lab: NABU trains and hires local creatives to write and illustrate high-interest, culturally relevant, levelled storybooks in their mother tongue languages.
  • Step 2: The NABU app: NABU digitises and uploads the books onto the NABU app where they can be accessed and downloaded for free. NABU continually implements new features in both Android and iOS apps to accurately assess literacy comprehension, implement pop-up notifications, gamification, add audio and alt text, and upgrade its interface to allow researchers to analyze data.
  • Step 3: Bridge to Literacy (B2L) Program: NABU trains community-based Reading Ambassadors (RA) and local partners to onboard and motivate families to read with their children every day. RAs directly engage with communities to build their knowledge and awareness about the importance of reading at home to build pre-primary literacy skills.
  • Step 4: Research: NABU's head of applied research, Dr Rose Perry has developed a framework to measure NABU's Theory of Change and to ensure an effective and efficient Monitoring & Evaluation system. Data collected drives scale-up strategy and provides more inclusive research on the science of learning within the broader academic community.
Digital X Solution NABU APP

Bridging the digital divide

NABU is a low-bandwidth reading app for mobile devices for people in underserved communities. The app is made available as an offline experience where connectivity is unavailable. The solution is also working to ensure integration features such as alt text and audio functionality to assist children with disabilities and remove the barrier of illiterate caregivers from participating in shared literacy experiences. In communities where connectivity is low and there is poor cell phone penetration, NABU works with telecommunication companies and governments to ensure that these communities are reached. NABU also provides print books when necessary.

Impact and highlights

  • Rwanda: 173,086 user sign-ups, 147,071 book downloads, 47,972 books completed. Time spent reading: 1,495+ hours.
  • Kenya: 124,310 user sign-ups,13,869 book downloads, 21,490 books completed. Time spent reading: 275+ hours.
  • Haiti: 1,372 user sign-ups, 2,494 book downloads, 4.040 books completed. Time spent reading: 57+ hours.

Plans for expansion

Secondary markets to expand into are Romani, Indigenous Australia, Pashto and Dari and Portuguese-speaking regions.