Do you like sharing what you know with eager young minds? Do you like the idea of writing for children? Are you looking for new ways to contribute to Wikimedia's work? If so, Wikijunior needs you. Wikimedia's project to create a series of educational books for children has stagnated after the initial surge of activity following its founding in November, 2004.
The project's story began when we were approached in October, 2004 by the Beck Foundation, which was interested in sponsoring educational materials for children. They offered Wikimedia a $10,000 grant to help in creating this content. The resulting project was tentatively named Wikijunior, and started in November 2004. It was decided that initially, we would concentrate on three books: Big Cats, South America, and The Solar System.
However, while the project has amassed a long list of interested participants, the number of Wikimedians who have made substantial contributions is small. The three initial books were intended to be only a starting point, but after six months none are near completion.
The Solar System project is closest. All of its pages have substantial content, and there is a standardized format across its pages. Some pages, like the glossary, are still incomplete, but most of the needed information is in place. Work still remains in polishing and fact-checking, and in making sure the pages are easy enough for kids to read.
Big Cats has made some progress, but still has a long way to go. Four out of its eleven pages have nothing but an external link or a picture, and all of its pages need expanding. South America has barely even started: only 6 of its 19 pages have any content at all, and one of those was written by your fearless reporter while researching this story.
What does this all mean? It means we need some dedicated editors to spend some time over on Wikibooks, helping get Wikijunior on its feet. This is a good opportunity to spread the Wikimedia name to a new area, and we've received a grant specifically for this work. We can't let it sputter out.