The Top Books Read by Youth on Mobile Devices

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At Worldreader, we love using data to help our readers find books they not only want to open but love to read. That’s why this year, when thinking about our top books, we decided to focus on the books that drew people in and kept them reading.
One of our biggest challenges at Worldreader is that we work with a wide range of readers who hail from Lagos to Delhi and everywhere in between. These different readers naturally have different tastes and needs but the similarities are sometimes the most striking.
Regional Reading Tastes
Our preschoolers and their parents in Delhi tended to like beautifully illustrated, fanciful tales like the The Talkative Tortoise, a bilingual Hindi-English picture book. We also discovered that the key to success with this demographic was finding books with simple vocabulary and short sentences. Though preschoolers are being read to by their parents, many of the parents are themselves struggling to read which meant that the books had to be accessible for them too.
Our readers in schools and libraries also preferred simple books though one exception to the this rule is The Girl With the Magic Hands. This short and linguistically more complex novella by Nigerian American writer Nnedi Okorafor has appeared on top ten lists at Worldreader since 2014.
A clue to the popularity of the The Girl With the Magic Hands might lie in the two books at the top of the schools and library list. Magozwe is about a homeless boy in Kenya who overcomes his fear that he cannot learn and goes back to school.
A Tiny Seed is the true story of Wangari Maathai who started life in a Kenyan village and went on to become the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace prize. The Girl With the Magic Hands follows the story of a poor Nigerian girl who, with the help of a little magic, changes her life and the lives of her family for the better. All three stories are undeniably both relatable and inspirational.
One of our most popular romance novelists, with two entries on the top 5, is Ros Haden, author of Broken Promises and Sugar Daddy, both of which are published by South African publisher Cover2Cover. Cover2Cover publishes a lot of teen romance but their stories almost always have a deeper message. Sugar Daddy, for instance, warns girls struggling to make ends meet that netting a man who helps pay their bills might not be the easy or glamorous solution it appears to be on the surface.
Global Reading Trends
Fantasy is also popular and, we suspect, set to become more popular over time. Late in the third quarter of 2016 we acquired a selection of fantasy novels by popular YA writer Morgan Rice after noticing a small initial offering was gaining traction among our readers. Since then her name has appeared in our top searches often just under sex, love and god.
If you look at global publishing trends our readers’ tastes sound familiar. A quick glance at Amazon’s bestsellers for children reveals, particularly as you skew younger, a pattern of interest in fantastical stories involving animals that are reminiscent of The Talkative Tortoise. Romance, inspiration and fantasy are also all among the top 5 grossing genres worldwide which matches up perfectly with our readers’ tastes.
In a year where so many of the headlines focused on how divided we have all become there are some ways in which we are not so different after all.  As it turns out, regardless of who we are, we’re more likely to turn to page two if you give us something to fall in love with, dream about or be inspired by.
Top Books: Parents and Caregivers in India (Read to Kids Program)

Title
Author
Publisher
Category

1
The Talkative Tortoise / बातूनी कछुआ
Jeeva Raghunath
Tulika Publishers
Storybooks

2
नन्ही उँगलियाँ/Little Fingers
शीला धीर/Sheila Dhir
Tulika Publishers
Storybooks

3
The Musical Donkey / सुरीला गधा
Namrata Rai
Tulika Publishers
Storybooks

4
रंगबिरंग/Rang Birang
Madhav Chavan
Pratham Books
Storybooks

5
सोना बड़ी सयानी/Sona badi Sayani
Vinita Krishna
Pratham Books
Storybooks

6
Hawa ped / हवा-पेड़
ज्योत्सना िमलन/Jyotsna Imln
Katha
Children’s poetry

7
बूडाबिम/Boodabim (it’s a name)
अलंकृता जैन/Alnkrita Jair
Tulika Publishers
Storybooks

8
भीमा गधा/Bhima’s Donkey
Kiran Kasturia
Pratham Books
Storybooks

9
My Best Friend / मेरी सहेली
Anupa Lal
Pratham Books
Storybooks

10
Red Umbrella / लाल छतरी
Nandini Nayar
Tulika Publishers
Children’s poetry

 
Top Books: School and Library Projects in sub-Saharan Africa

Title
Author
Publisher
Category

1
Magozwe
Lesley Koyi
African Storybook Project
Beginning readers

2
A Tiny Seed: The Story of Wangari Maathai
Nicola Rijsdijk
African Storybook Project
Beginning readers

3
The Girl With the Magic Hands
Nnedi Okorafor
Worldreader
Young Adult Fantasy

4
Ready? Set. Raymond! (Step into Reading)
Vaunda Nelson
Random House Children’s Books (Penguin Random House)
Beginning readers

5
Disability is Not Inability
Wairimu Mwangi
The Jomo Kenyatta Foundation
Beginning readers

6
Old Mother West Wind
Thornton Burgess
Public Domain
Children’s classics

7
I Am An African
Wayne Visser
Self Published
Poetry

8
Boastful Sui and Grandmother Goes to the Pictures
Marg Reynolds
Self
Beginning readers

9
The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson
Public Domain
Children’s classics

10
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Howard Pyle
Public Domain
Classics

 
Top Books: Teens and Adults Reading on the Worldreader app

Title
Author
Publisher
Category

1
Broken Promises
Ros Haden
Cover2Cover
YA romance

2
The Holy Bible: King James Version
Various
Public Domain
religion

3
First Love: Thinking of Him
A.V. Frost
Beaten Track Publishing
romance

4
Sugar Daddy
Ros Haden
Cover2Cover
YA romance

5
There’s Something about Him
Lauri Kubuitsile
Worldreader
romance

6
Forever My Love
Heather Graham
Open Road Integrated Media
romance

7
The Girl with the Magic Hands
Nnedi Okorafor
Worldreader
fantasy

8
A Quest for Heroes (Arabic)
Morgan Rice
Lukeman Literary
fantasy

9
Damaged Souls
Stine Arnulf
Self published
Romance/Fanfiction

10
Le Roman de la momie
Théophile Gautier
ILIVRI
romance

Original published by Danielle Zacarias as Top Books that Made People Readers in 2016