We Love Reading aims to provide a practical, cost-efficient, sustainable, grassroots approach that involves women and the community to increase reading levels among children aged 4-10 by focusing on the read-aloud experience to plant the love of reading. The We Love Reading (WLR) program constitutes training local women and youth to hold read-aloud sessions in public spaces in their neighborhoods where books are routinely read aloud to children. This is the “library.” WLR chooses books that are age-appropriate, attractive, neutral in content, and in the native language of the child. In addition to promoting the experience of reading, WLR empowers women 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.
The model can be replicated anywhere. It uses an existing common public space such as a mosque or community center. It does not need a bookshelf since all books are given out, requiring only a collection of books that are read again and again. The woman who reads aloud doesn’t have to be highly educated and trained. The women receiving training are required to “pay it forward,” by sharing newly acquired knowledge and training another woman to become a reader, creating a domino effect. The trained reader is welcomed because she is from the neighborhood. The community starts to respect women and supports their roles as leaders and future change agents even within mosques. The community also starts to invest in the collection, building ownership and responsibility of the library. WLR aims to change attitudes and let people know that reading is fun.
WLR depends on networks of women who already resemble a movement to bring about social change through reading. WLR aims to develop long-term cultural change. WLR isn’t delivering services that need support systems; it is creating capabilities in hundreds of local women enabling them to be creative for themselves. The model is formulated in a way that each person can tailor the model to fit his or her culture and needs while maintaining the essence of the model, aiding in building ownership of the project and sustainability.
WLR has trained 700 women, created 300 libraries, directly impacted 10,000 children (60% girls) and indirectly impacted 50,000 individuals in Jordan, worked across sectors—business, government, and civil society—to forge multi-stakeholder relationships to advance the WLR model. WLR has spread to Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq, Tunisia, Turkey, Thailand, Mexico, Malaysia, Uganda, Germany, and Azerbaijan. WLR has been contacted to implement WLR in New York City in marginalized neighborhoods.
WLR has also developed 10 books for children that focus on energy and water conservation and littering.
The We Love Reading model has evolved into a framework to nurture social entrepreneurship. Young men and women are discovering the potential inside them to become changemakers in their communities through the library they establish in their neighborhood. They have started their own initiatives serving their communities by identifying the problems that bother them and coming up with grassroots solutions to develop their country. WLR has been implemented in the Zaatri refugee camp with amazing results on the children's thirst for reading, on women, and on increased youth self esteem. Children have started writing their own stories and reading to each other.
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CEI approaches in action
We Love Reading (WLR) started in 2006 with one library serving 20 children. As of December 2013, there are 300 libraries all over Jordan. WLR has trained 700 individuals to read aloud in these libraries and is impacting 10,000 children directly and 50,000 children indirectly.
WLR has shared its model at various speaking events at conferences, schools, societies, universities, and mosques. Specifically, WLR has been present at events at the Queen Rania Teachers' Academy, CGI, Yale, Clase, WISE, WEIF, IDB, IBBY, USAID, Cambridge University, the World Bank, Arab Bankers USA, the Ruben Foundation, and Thomson Reuters Lawyers. WLR encourages its trained readers to pay it forward and train someone else. This, coupled with WLR's presence at events and in the media, has allowed WLR to expand into 15 additional countries outside of Jordan and impact a total of 100,000 children worldwide.
WLR's model is formulated in such a way that it can be tailored to fit into many different cultural contexts. Children's Reading Day in Turkey was developed by AÇEV after receiving training from WLR. WLR is spreading village to village in Uganda as a result of local radio announcements. In the United States, Arabic read-aloud sessions are taking place in public libraries in an attempt to encourage immigrant parents to read to their children while also building bridges of trust with their local communities. In Thailand, WLR is being run by a nurse in an AIDS orphanage.
We Love Reading is planning to open 1,500 We Love Reading libraries throughout Jordan and within three Syrian refugee camps in the next five years.
WLR's goal is to continue raising awareness on the importance of reading by spreading its model globally while evaluating its impact on children. WLR also plans to explore using its libraries as platforms for conflict resolution through reading.
More specifically, WLR plans to spread its model in Syrian refugee camps within Jordan with a variety of goals in mind:
1. To foster the love of reading among children
2. To provide a mechanism allowing children to cope with the frustrations and hardships of camp life
3. To provide adults a different and positive way to channel their energies while making a difference in their camps
4. To form a communication network between library leaders and camp authorities
5. To provide a platform to disseminate awareness programs
6. To provide leadership skills, responsibilties, respect, and hope to female librarians (either adult women or youths)
Please see the "One Library at a Time - Za'atari Camp" testimonial in the supplementary documents section of this profile for more information.
Monitoring & Evaluation
1. evaluates its training sessions by issuing questionnaires
2. evaluates the psychosocial status and leadership skills of trained readers before and after the program by issuing questionnaires
3. follows up with trained readers during the implementation of the program via phone and email
4. evaluates children through questionnaires administered by the trained readers
Parents have reported that children exhibit higher self confidence and academic performance and that they are likely to buy and read books rather than toys.