Reading to children seems natural to us, but it is quite unusual in the Arab world. However, since these countries are also increasingly recognising the joy that can be promoted by reading aloud to children, and that this activity encourages empathy and intelligence, the Jordanian initiative ‘We love reading’ has developed a simple model: the organisation provides people with the skills they need to read aloud, so that they can operate small reading centres in their own regions – in libraries, mosques and sometimes even in their own homes.
The results of this simple approach have been so spectacular that the programme has spread like wildfire throughout the Arab world. This success has even enabled ‘We love reading’ to publish their own story books and to have a selection of international children’s books translated into Arabic. Reading also leads readers to develop their leadership qualities, and many readers have gone on to found their own social enterprises. The organisation’s very simple yet cost-effective approach is simple to repeat, and it can be used to establish reading activities in areas where there are no schools. This is currently being done in refugee camps.