Room to Read Librio Illustrator Workshop Title

How to make 20 picture books in one week

4 minute read

One year ago this month, Team Librio was in Cambodia to visit the in-country programs run by our charity partner, Room To Read. The trip was made up of three parts.


- A book flowering ceremony, which you can read about here.

- Witnessing the Girls Education Program in action, which you can read about here.

- And lastly, taking part in a workshop to see how Room To Read’s books are created by in-country authors and illustrators. That’s what we’re going to look at in this post.


When we selected Room to Read as our charity partner in 2018, there were several factors which we felt made them our ideal partner, but there was one which we found particularly persuasive, given that we at Librio make personalised books for children. And it was this:


In their 20-year history, Room to Read have placed close to 20 million books in the hands of children around the world, but what sets them apart from many other book donation charities is that those books are not just hand-me-downs from Western countries. They are books published by Room to Read themselves and created especially for individual countries. In total, Room to Read have published over 1,500 and they joke as being “The biggest publisher you’ve never heard of”.

Room To Read School Library Cambodia

Room to Read take the effort to create their own books because they know that it’s not enough to just put a book in the hands of a child and hope that it gets them excited about reading. Room to Read wants the child to not just have a book, they want the child to develop a love of books and reading which leads to long-term self-motivation to read.


This philosophy tied in really well with Librio’s own philosophy that our books shouldn’t just be popular with children because they’re personalised, they should be popular because they are fun to read with the personalization as an extra cherry on top. Just like Room to Read, we want our books to be read over and over again by child and parent alike and that means spending more time on their creation than might otherwise seem necessary.


Not only that, but Librio had built its foundations on creating the first-ever series of books in multiple dialects in our native Switzerland, so we understood the vital connection between story time taking place in an underrepresented language and families’ engagement with reading.


With this in mind, we were delighted to have the opportunity to see Room to Read’s book creation process in action in Cambodia. In many countries where Room to Read operates, there is no children’s book market to speak of. In these countries, little value is placed on the importance of picture books and so Room to Read is often not just creating books, but kickstarting a country’s entire picture book industry.


Cambodia is a case in point where picture books are hard to come by and so Room to read run regular workshops to empower budding artists and to create new books for their program’s libraries.


The workshops are very intense and often take the form of a hackathon where they create up to 20 books in a single week by gathering the country’s finest writers and illustrators in a one place and let the juices flow. You can see one such book that we selected for our Librio Library book last year. The wonderful Chek Chek wants to get married.


Into this environment was inserted Team Librio for a half-day workshop to explore what it might look like if we collaborated with Room to Read to create a personalised children’s book showing how children went to school around the world.


From the outset, one of our ambitions for working with Room to Read was to one day do a book together with them, so even this tentative first step less than one year into our partnership was incredibly exciting for us.


What followed were three hugely enjoyable hours as we shared our creation process for personalised books and the artists shared their ideas for showing how their little ones go to school in Cambodia. We also learnt that, if picture books are still a relatively unknown entity in a society, explaining what personalised picture books are is quite a challenge!


Below, you can see a selection of our favourite images from the day. It was certainly excellent inspiration to do a book like this together with Room to Read in the future!