Opening New Worlds to Young Readers on International Literacy Day

Check out USAID’s read-along with NASA and learn why the book’s author is enthusiastic about new paths to literacy

U.S. Agency for International Development
2 min readSep 8, 2021


Tremendous obstacles still exist for accessing education and literacy around the world. Studies, including from UNICEF, report that too many children do not have access to books at home. The need for the open-source Global Digital Library is greater than ever. The library is an online repository of more than 6,000 books, with titles accessible to those with disabilities and available in 83 languages.

On International Literacy Day, USAID — one of the primary supporters of the Global Book Alliance, which has developed the library — shares highlights from its interview with Obai Al-Alloush, a Syrian poet and children’s author who lives in Turkey.

He has written eight books that are available in the Global Digital Library. One is Grace in Space about a young girl’s journey into outer space (click at the end of the article for a fun read-along).

Obai explains why he chose to publish his children’s book in the Global Digital Library and how to create new pathways to literacy in every part of the world.

What inspired you to write Grace in Space?

Obai Al-Alloush / Photo courtesy of the author

My deep love for space. Since I was a kid, I have been keen on stars and planets just like Grace. Another reason is my desire to provide a simplified version of relativity theory that kids can comprehend. [The story’s surprise ending helps explain that theory.]

What is it about Grace, as a character, that might inspire other children?

Her genuine curiosity and passion for knowledge. She is a brave little girl who would not hesitate to experience new things and explore new worlds.

Why did you choose to publish your work in the Global Digital Library?

I believe knowledge should not be restricted to specific cultures. I find the contents of that library engaging and beneficial to all children around the world. Literacy is an international problem and not restricted to one country. We need to develop a worldwide awareness of the importance of literacy so that all nations are on equal footing to face the devastating results of illiteracy.

Watch USAID Administrator Samantha Power and NASA Astronaut Jessica Meir read the short, award-winning story Grace in Space about a young girl with a disability who journeys to space. The story is written by Obai Al-Alloush and illustrated by Sara Wafeeq. The book is one of many books on the open-source Global Digital Library, which is supported and managed by USAID with other donors and partners through the Global Book Alliance.

Check out more of Obai Al-Alloush’s, titles in the Global Digital Library, including Haily Hop and the Water Drop, Layla’s Project and Why Is Uranus Sad?

About the Book

Grace in Space was made possible through All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development, a partnership of USAID, World Vision, and the Australian Government.



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