Reading among Palestinian Children in Lebanon

Monday 10 February 2014

Encouraging the Culture of Reading among Palestinian
Refugee Children in Lebanon
Implemented by PBBY in cooperation with
Arab Resource Center for Popular Arts

Supported by IBBY- Yamada Fund 2010
A detailed report by the Consultant/Trainer in response
First let me tell you that this workshop has been a very pleasant and enlightening experience for me. I was very delighted to get acquainted with the participants who shared their aspirations and challenges with me. (17 participant)
Second, the schedule was divided among the following days:
A- Day One:
1- Introduction
a. Importance of reading
b. Aims and objectives of workshop
c. What is children’s literature
d. Children’s needs
i. Human
ii. Social and emotional
iii. Cognitive
iv. Moral
2- Promote reading
a. Bringing children and books together
b. Relationship between pleasure reading and student achievement
c. Teachers’ role
d. Librarians’ role
e. Parents’ role
f. Barriers to extracurricular reading
g. Tips for promoting reading
3- How to choose children’s books
a. Setting
b. Characters
c. Content
d. Plot
e. Theme
f. Style
g. Illustrations
h. Age
4- How to read books for children
B- Day Two:
1- Teachers as facilitators
a. What can teachers do
i. Classroom environment
ii. Connections with literature
2- Libraries as teaching aids
a. Personal information and research
b. Learning difficulties
c. Social and emotional support
d. Qualities of a good librarian
e. Recommendations for making the library a comfortable and inviting place
C- Day Three:
1- Reading activities
a. Developing reading activities
b. After reading strategies
c. Different ideas for reading activities
D- Day Four:
1- Technology in education and the transition to the digital age
a. Digital-age literacy
b. Inventive thinking
c. Effective communication
d. High productivity
2- Interactive learning
a. What is interactive learning
b. Interactive lessons
c. Virtual field trips
3- Success stories
a. Kenyan Camel Library
b. Donkeys boost Ethiopian literacy
c. Alif Laila Book Bus Society
4- Mobile libraries
a. Definition
b. Different kinds of mobile libraries
c. Jordan’s Drive to Read
d. Palestine’s Children in Crisis Project in Beit Hanoun
E- Follow Up Day:
a. Focus on illustration
i. Early picture books
ii. 80’s till present
iii. Book awards
iv. Examining and evaluating illustrations
v. Different art media
On the first day, and after I read a few children’s books to demonstrate how to read and tell stories for children, the participants were asked to prepare a story to read or tell. Most of the participants have shown awareness and understanding of the process of storytelling, it’s just they needed more time and practice to master the skill.
Moreover, many pictures and videos were showed and played during the workshop. The pictures were mainly about the success stories, different children’s libraries and mobile libraries, and children’s book illustrations. The video titles are the following:
1. Do school libraries need to have books?
2. School librarians as teachers
3. Why we need to teach technology in school
4. Libraries past and libraries future
5. Interactive whiteboard lesson in 5 minutes
6. Interactive whiteboard
7. Interactive learning environment prototype
8. Gas plumbing training – interactive learning
9. Students get a wired education
10. New Zealand – part of a virtual field trip
11. Children’s book project – Tanzania
12. CNN hero Yohannes Gebregeorgis Brings Books to Ethiopia
13. Technology at Makuleke Library, South Africa
14. The Camel Bookmobile Project
15. The Camel Bookmobile Project
As for the background of the participants, most of them are librarians coming from different Palestinian camps; very few of them were teachers. I really don’t know exact information about their backgrounds. I know they were all interested in children’s literature, and were all facing many challenges and problems. One major problem was literacy. As vast majority of the children they worked with had reading disabilities even at advanced ages. Another problem was turning their libraries into an afternoon study, which channeled the main purpose of children’s libraries from a comfortable place of leisure reading, finding information, and fun into a place of studying and finishing homework. Another crucial and critical reality the participants had articulated was the Palestinian identity that was diminishing among the new generation and how they were struggling to promote that identity by engaging their students in purposeful cultural activities. I believe that parents need to play a more effective role in this dilemma because that’s mainly where national identity and patriotism emerge from, but unfortunately, most parents are busy in making a living, which is very hard nowadays.
The implemented activities were mainly storytelling. I read them a story or two daily, and on the second day, a few teachers started reading and telling their only stories. By the end of the workshop, almost all the participants could evaluate their colleague’s storytelling. As I mentioned before, most participants needed more time and practice to master the skill.
I read to them many books during the workshop, I only remember Curious George. A CD was offered to each participant with important information like reading tips, reading activities, and lists of websites for reading and interactive learning. One of the websites is an online children’s library with books written in many languages. On the follow up day, I read 3 stories that happened to be written by Palestinian authors, and the participants evaluated those books based on the criteria we had discussed on the first day of the workshop.

As for the participants’ enthusiasm, yes, most of them were very enthusiastic; they were always sharing their own success stories. On the follow-up day, many participants shared with us how they were trying to implement what they have learned in the workshop.
Finally, it was really a great pleasure for me to get to know the participants and work with them. They have left a great impression on me.

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