Book Project

Local Language Book Project:
Ready Set Go Books

This project is about creating colorful, culturally-appropriate books for Ethiopia where millions of people are eager to practice reading:

  • Students in overcrowded classrooms that may contain no books at all
  • Women who didn’t have a chance to go to school
  • People of all ages who’ve never before seen words printed in their heart language
  • Buy our #ReadySetGo books. All proceeds support our book literacy project
  • A great way to help other discover our books is to leave a review on Amazon

Award-winning children’s book author Jane Kurtz and her sister Caroline - who learned to read as children growing up in Maji, Ethiopia, are volunteering their time and artistic talents to create easy-to-read books inspired by stories, proverbs, and scenes from daily life in Ethiopia. An army of volunteers has stepped forward to help with illustration, translation, and design. Jane Kurtz leads the Creative team and Steffani Stephens, a former Microsoft Program Manager, leads the Production team.


The shiniest books for children make it all look easy.

Anyone who has tried to create a successful children’s book knows though, that a lot of deep-water sloshes around that shiny little iceberg tip.

For Ready Set Go Books, 2017 was a year of experimenting and failing, mistakes and dead ends - mixed in with a few crucial successes. Learning from those mistakes set up the success we have seen from 2018 through to date. Open Hearts Big Dreams has managed to publish more than 100 colorful, culturally-appropriate, local language books for readers in the U.S. and Ethiopia. And we continue to publish more books each month.


Bold Vision Plus Collaboration Leads to Innovation

An inspiring number of people who saw early examples of the Ready Set Go Books stepped up to ask how they could help. Artists and children donated art. Ethiopian translators got involved. A group of educators at the International Community School in Addis Ababa came together to write and translate some stories. We now have a Creative team in Oregon, a Production and a Translation team in Seattle that work beautifully together to solve baffling challenges.

When Jane Kurtz asked Yemisirach, head of the Ethiopia Reads office in Addis Ababa, what she thought of the first Ready Set Go books, she said, “I like them because they’re innovative. Ethiopians in my generation want to learn how to be more innovative.” She also shared the reactions she received to these books.

A teacher-librarian praised the small number of words per page and added, “The curriculum guides that go with each book are very helpful in teaching us how we should read for the children in fun ways while they learn from the story. It made me realize that I was doing this in a wrong way for so long."

Here’s twelve-year-old Nardos: “I love reading all of these books because they have interesting and catchy stories and I like retelling the stories to my friends, siblings and in the classroom.

Seven-year-old Rediet especially likes the book Fire. “It’s informative,” she says. “These books tell us about things that are around us that we don't pay attention to every day.

Eleven-year-old Anteneh points to We Can Stop the Lion and calls it his favorite “because the story has a very strong message and it made me admire the strengths of the spiders.

Global researchers find that children do better all the way through school if they first learn to read in their heart languages. Ready Set Go Books works with native speakers to provide translations in local languages. The little books give beginning readers bright and engaging stories so they can practice their reading skills.

Ready Set Go Books is an OHBD project which creates and publishes these books.  Our goal is 200 unique titles to help increase the literary rate in Ethiopia. The books are available in North American and Europe on Amazon sites – follow our author page here to hear about new books published.  Proceeds from book sales support producing and distributing more Ready Set Go books in Ethiopia.

Our books are being carried by Seattle Public Libraries as well as libraries in Colorado, California, and Minnesota . If you'd like to see Ready Set Go books in your school or library, please contact us for more information on how to do so. We do offer preferred pricing for schools and libraries. We know kids in the US will enjoy our books and each one sold funds multiple books printed and distributed in Ethiopia.

A number of our books are sponsored by individuals, schools, churches, or other organizations. Sponsors raise funds to cover the cost of design and publishing, choose the stories, may help create the art, and direct where they would like books to be first distributed. Sponsors are recognized in the back matter of each book and on our website.

We are grateful for all our amazing supporters that continue to help us make our bold vision a reality.

Artist Spotlight

Nahosenay Negussie

Nahosenay Negussie is an internationally renowned artist whose work has been featured in the National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. His richly detailed paintings with gilded details, which have been compared to Gustav Klimt, animate the figures and patterns that he arranges in brilliant kaleidoscopic compositions. Nahosenay was part of the artists-and-writers group that traveled together …

Nahosenay Negussie Read More »

Lee Baughman

“As an art teacher I am always on the hunt for projects that the participants in my classes will get excited about. When Katie Bradley first approached me about the Ready Set Go books I thought ‘well this might be something a few of my students would be interested in…’. While I was intrigued and …

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Durga Yael Bernhard

A community wedding celebration called a dounounbah How gratifying it is for me to bring a different aspect of my life – African dance and drumming, which I have practiced for 36 years – into my work as a children’s book author and illustrator.  Guinea is one of my favorite places on earth, full of …

Durga Yael Bernhard Read More »

A fun video about this project made by Denver volunteers: