We Love Reading
Activity: Encouraging children to read for pleasure through a cost-efficient grassroots approach
Name of the Organization: Taghyeer
Geographical reach: Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Tunis, Lebanon, Iraq, Qatar, UAE, Uganda, Turkey, USA, Thailand, Azerbiajan, Germany
Number of beneficiaries: 100,000 individuals
Project Representative: Dr. Rana Dajani
About the Project
Reading is essential for the development of children’s personalities, imaginations and cognitive skills yet children do not read for pleasure in the Arab world, not for lack of books but because their parents did not read to them. We Love Reading aims to encourage children to read for pleasure by training women to read aloud to children in their neighborhoods. These read-aloud sessions are the project’s libraries. The model is innovative because it is simple, cost-efficient, grassroots and sustainable. WLR has trained 700 women and opened 300 libraries in Jordan, impacting more than 10,000 children. The model has spread throughout the Arab world and beyond.
Estimates of the number of pages read for pleasure in the Arab world are low, negatively impacting education systems and the economic productivity of the region. Children must learn to enjoy reading to reap its benefits. Many programs that attempted to increase reading by providing books have failed. Research has shown that reading aloud is key in fostering the love of reading among children and youth.
Parents, teachers and librarians in the Arab world lack reading skills and habits. The WLR model provides a practical and sustainable approach to increase reading levels among children aged 4 to 10 by encouraging a love of reading. The program trains local women to hold read-aloud sessions in public spaces in their neighborhoods.
WLR is changing attitudes by creating fun around reading. The project depends on networks of women who form a movement for social and cultural change through reading. In the short term, the program stimulates creativity in children -especially in girls who generally have fewer opportunities to participate in social events. It boosts women readers’ confidence to manage the libraries, empowering them to become community leaders. In the longer term, the program advances a skilled and creative generation of girls who will become empowered mothers. It will redine women’s roles and enhance independence, ownership, advocacy and respect.
We Love Reading received the 2009 Synergos award for Arab world social innovators. The project was mentioned in Innovation in Education, published by Qatar Foundation in 2012. WLR has spread throughout Jordan, the Arab world and internationally.
In the upcoming years, the project seeks to:
- Use the model to raise awareness of the importance of reading in the Arab world and worldwide with the help of a comprehensive online, multilingual training toolkit and a video for readers with guidance on starting a neighborhood library.
- Evaluate the impact of the model on children in collaboration with JPAL poverty action lab/MIT for training evaluators.
- Explore funding to implement the model in the Syrian refugee communities in Jordan starting with a pilot project.
- - Explore the project libraries as platforms for changing behavior by developing culturally sensitive children’s books that focus on peace and conflict.