In celebration of National Reading Day, the We Love Reading program launched its latest children’s book, “Queen of Balloons,” written by Lina Qtaishat and illustrated by Ali Al-Zaini. The event featured several prominent speakers, including the Book Author and The Research Project Manager at We Love Reading(WLR), WLR Founder Prof. Rana Dajani, the Secretary of the “Climate Change and Environment Protection Association” Eng. Mary Bahdousha, and We Love Reading’s Ambassador Huda Abu Al-Khair, a teacher and volunteer in various fields.
Prof. Rana Dajani highlighted the importance of diversifying the stories we read to our children, making sure they are enjoyable, captivating, and visually appealing while also reflecting our culture and reality. As children learn more effectively through stories rather than instructions and commands, “At We Love Reading, we began by creating stories with the aim of changing children’s behaviors and enriching Arabic literature.” Prof. Rana said.
35 Arabic books have been produced by the We Love Now program so far, covering a wide range of topics like literacy, gender, environment, science, climate change, and more.
In addition to shedding light on Arab scientists, Lina Qtaishat noted that “Queen of Balloons” intends to raise children’s awareness of the increasing temperatures and water scarcity resulting from climate change. She mentioned that the word “magic” in the story is a reference to children’s ideas which we cannot imagine, but they actually exist, so the magic is a reality.
Lina described the stages of the story’s development and its inspiration, and how it all began when she was inspired during a conversation with Dr. Rana Dajani about the Jordanian scientist Omar Munther Yaghi. He sparked the idea for her, and she aimed to convey his concept to children, not through instructions and an idealized character, but in a language and manner that resonates indirectly with children.”
Qtaishat thanked the We Love Reading program for providing her an opportunity to translate her ideas onto paper and share them with the children. She followed by expressing gratitude to the painter Ali Al-Zaini, who portrayed the story with the best scenes through his illustrations.
In the context of educating children about environmental issues through reading, Mary Bahdoucheh, Secretary of the Jordanian Climate Change and Environmental Protection Association, discussed the challenge of the lack of effective response to climate change issues and pointed out that the association is targeting the most vulnerable group and the most affected by climate change, which are children because they do not have enough scientific or social background on the correct behavior during disasters. So, the association created a competition that simulated the annoying behaviors of children. They found through their drawings that throwing garbage and piling up garbage bags is what bothers children the most. Following the competition, they gave environmental awareness lectures in schools with focusing on learning by playing.
he first fundamental step in developing a society that is environmentally aware and conscious of the associated hazards is to focus on children,” she adds.
Furthermore, to create books tailored to the unique experiences of each reader within the “We Love Reading” program, encompassing both children and program ambassadors, Ambassador Huda Abu Al-Khair shared her experience of reading the book “Queen of Balloons” with various age groups of children in her class. She also highlighted the key themes that resonated with each age group in the story.
It is worth noting that last year, We Love Reading collaborated with the Jordanian Ministry of Culture for the National Reading Campaign, an initiative that was followed by the declaration of September 29th as National Reading Day.