On April 30, We Love Reading (Taghyeer), an initiative under the Ministry of Culture to foster a love of reading among children, celebrated a “Collaboration for a Better Future, A New Approach to Sustain Success” under the patronage of His Excellency Prime Minister Dr. Omar Al Razzaz.
We Love Reading is a Jordanian program, founded by Dr. Rana Dajani in 2006, is an innovative, grassroots program to empower communities through a network of local volunteers to increase reading levels among children. The We Love Reading model focuses on reading aloud to plant the love of reading for children to become lifelong learners.
The conference highlighted the partnerships helping to make We Love Reading a success:
1. We Love Reading partners with a grassroots network of women, men, and youth who share the common values of the program and wish to bring about social change through reading. We Love Reading develops the capabilities of these community ambassadors to find creative ways to encourage critical thinking skills in young children through reading. The We Love Reading model is formulated so that each ambassador can tailor the model to fit his or her culture and community needs.
2. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UKAID are partnered with the Ministry of Education, and the Queen Rania Teacher Academy to strengthen reading and mathematics education for all students from kindergarten through third grade through the Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Initiative (RAMP). Through RAMP, the Ministry of Education has trained over 12,000 teachers in effective reading and mathematics instruction. RAMP and We Love Reading have partnered to create 800 community libraries where volunteers regularly read to children.
3. Universities and field practitioners are working together to expand the library of available research on literacy education and outreach, and to ensure that the program incorporates best practices.
4. The private sector and civil society will serve an important role in helping We Love Reading continue and grow in the future.
These partnerships are a testimonial that nothing is impossible and that by persistence, hard work and good faith in people, one can make dreams come true.
Scientists from Brown University, University of Chicago, Queen Mary University London and New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) presented research on the impact of We Love Reading on children, parents and the community. Also in attendance were the Ministers of Culture and Social Development, and the Ambassador of Kuwait.
This conference was funded by USAID and DFID.
About We Love Reading: The program constitutes training local volunteer women, men and youth to hold read-aloud sessions in public spaces in their neighborhoods where books are routinely read aloud to children. WLR chooses books that are age-appropriate, attractive, neutral in content, in the native language of the child. In addition to promoting the experience of reading, WLR empowers women, men and youth readers to become leaders in their communities, builds ownership in the children and community members and serves as a platform for raising awareness on issues such as health and environment through reading books on themes. The program impacts emotional regulation, executive function, literacy skills, and psychosocial status. The model can be replicated anywhere using an existing common public space. An innovative model of support for those using the program was developed to create a supportive network for the volunteers and their work. The program has been called a social movement and has spread to 50 countries. The program is evidence-based in collaboration with international universities such as Brown University and Yale. The program is led by local scientists, practitioners, and business experts who strive to reach every child by empowering and engaging the workforce; creating partnerships with key stakeholders; and adapting and optimizing the model, utilizing technology and continuous improvement methodology.
The international advisory board of We Love Reading includes Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint Alhassan, the former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and His Excellency Hamdi Tabbaa.
We Love Reading has been honored in Jordan and internationally. From His Majesty King Abdullah II the King Hussein Medal of Honor 2014; Synergos award 2009; Ahel Himmeh 2009; Library of Congress best practices 2013; WISE Award 2014; Star Award 2015; IDEO.org best refugee education program 2015; UNESCO International Literacy Prize 2017; UNHCR innovative education for refugees 2017; World Literacy Council Award 2018; and the Jacobs social entrepreneurship award 2018; and was featured in the New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/opinion/syria-refugee-children.html.
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