08/09/2017 16:28 BST

International Literacy Day: Idris Elba Brings To Life Bedtime Story Illiterate Mum Made Up For Her Kids

'I just didn’t know how to read well.' 📚

A mum who used to make up bedtime stories to go with the illustrations in her children’s books, because she was illiterate, has had one of her stories published, on International Literacy Day. 

Wanda Steward, 47, from Philadelphia, US, didn’t want to miss out on the precious time she spent with her four children - who have now all grown up - before they went to sleep, so rather than admit defeat when faced with the text, she created stories to match pictures in the books. 

Many of her stories would revolve around a made-up character ‘Pong-Pong the Brave’. She used this character to write a new tale based on the classic children’s book ‘Chicken Little’. 

“Yeah, I had to make up stories,” she said. “It was the fact I just didn’t know how to read well.” 

Wanda Steward.

To celebrate International Literacy Day, one of Steward’s made-up stories - ‘The Little Chicken Named Pong-Pong’ - has been published and it has been read by Project Literacy ambassador, Idris Elba.

The charity commissioned illustrations to go with Steward’s narrative and helped bring ‘Pong Pong’ to life.

And now, after having lessons, Steward is no longer illiterate. 

Idris Elba is helping to take Wanda’s story from her imagination to a global audience by filming a bedtime story reading that parents and children can enjoy.

“They say you only live once,” Steward said. “That was one of the things I wanted to learn, how to read. I went back to school. 

“I can read little words, bigger words I have problems with. I feel proud of myself.”

Steward was one of almost one billion adults worldwide who struggle to read, which means their children in turn are less likely to be literate. In the UK alone, there are 3.2 million illiterate adults. 

Project Literacy are doing a limited print run of the book to be put into Steward’s local library.  

To download a free copy of Wanda’s e-book, visit Project Literacy’s website. For every book downloaded, Pearson - the world’s learning company - will match up to $1 to adult literacy charities.

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