We Love Reading (WLR) creates social change at the grassroots level by training volunteers around the world to read aloud to children in their local communities. Its mission is founded on scientific research demonstrating that reading aloud facilitates literacy skills from a young age, eases the transition for children in refugee camps as they re-enter school, and helps children build empathy and resilience. WLR developed an innovative training model to teach individuals, particularly women, to establish local groups called “libraries,” empowering them to become leaders, helping them raise awareness around issues like education, gender equality, and the environment, and cultivating social entrepreneurial skills. Founded and headquartered in Jordan, it has created libraries in over 60 countries. WLR develops partnerships with various organizations to support its work, including local and neighboring authorities, NGOs, businesses, universities, and scientific institutions. Partners have donated books and event equipment, sponsored training programs, and provided technological support for online programs.
We Love Reading created an online portal to provide access to their flagship training program in the circumstances of COVID-19 lockdowns. Also available as a mobile app, the program allows parents and community members to learn to read aloud to their children in a fun way and keep them engaged with learning. WLR partnered with an IT services company which provided free of charge hosting for the online training, and relied on volunteers to translate it into ten languages. In addition to the training portal, the organization provides age-appropriate children’s books about the pandemic.
Theory of Change
Training local volunteers, particularly women, to start grassroots education initiatives for young children fosters literacy development, improves social and psychological wellbeing of children, strengthens social entrepreneurship, and empowers women to lead the change they seek in their communities.
WLR’s primary program teaches volunteers to employ the read-aloud method in their local communities, to create community-based WLR libraries, and to find appropriate locations for reading sessions. After completing the program, trainees join a global network of We Love Reading ambassadors. WLR libraries can be found in cities, rural communities, and refugee camps. For example, beginning with a pilot program in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan in 2014, WLR libraries now exist in all refugee camps in the country. WLR also creates children’s books in collaboration with local artists, writers, and educational consultants. Book topics include environmental conservation, empathy, nonviolence, refugees, gender, and disabilities. The organization also provides links to thousands of free books. Lastly, WLR participates in global networks and research studies to increase and measure the impact of its programs. Scientific institutions and universities around the world have partnered with WLR to study the impact of reading aloud to children on individuals and communities.
In a research study published in early 2020, We Love Reading was shown to reduce stress and anxiety, boosting mental health and resilience among vulnerable populations such as refugees and others with lower socio-economic status. With over 4,400 grassroots libraries, WLR has conducted over 150,000 readings to children, provided professional development training to over 7,500 local volunteers, reached over 3,500 refugee children, and distributed over 250,000 books to communities in need. WLR has participated in various international conferences and received awards from domestic and international organizations, including UNHCR and UNESCO. Overall, WLR has reached over 500,000 children since its establishment in 2006.