Press Release: ANERA Launches Gaza Children’s Reading Program

ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) today launched its comprehensive reading campaign, called Hayya Naqra (Let’s Read), which aims to reach 10,000 preschoolers in Gaza to promote the love of reading and storytelling. The Hayya Naqra initiative integrates reading aloud in the daily routines of children in preschools and encourages parents and children to read together at home.

Part of the Palestinian Community Assistance Program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and managed by Mercy Corps, this two-year project implemented by ANERA will work with 60 preschools and 30 community centers to provide specialist training for preschool teachers and principals; rehabilitation and provision of equipment and learning materials as well as educational development activities such as reading, painting, drama and summer camps.

Under the program, ANERA has established and equipped special “reading corners” in 29 preschools and 15 community centers across Gaza Strip. The reading corners will be used daily to offer children the space and opportunity to enjoy reading and storytelling sessions with their teachers.

ANERA produced special colorful Hayya Naqra book bags that are being distributed to more than 10,000 youngsters in the Gaza Strip. “We expect that each pack will be used by at least three children in each home, ultimately reaching some 30,000 children,” explained Sulieman Mleahat, ANERA’s education program director. The bags include story books, workbooks, posters, crayons and a leaflet for parents and caregivers on the importance of reading.

“Reading aloud is one of the most important activities parents and teachers can do with their children. Reading helps with brain development and develops the child’s listening and speaking skills,” added Mr. Mleahat. Research shows that children who are read to from a very young age do better at school and have better prospects for the future.

Hayya Naqra is a unique intervention particularly in marginalized communities,” said Mona Zakout, the Gaza-based program manager. “Let’s Read sessions are now part of children’s daily routines in our targeted preschools.” The program gives children without access to any early childhood education the opportunity to participate in valuable activities in their community-based organization in their communities.

“ANERA is proud to be launching the reading project, which is part of our long-term commitment to support Palestinian community development. Thanks to the generous help from USAID, Palestinian, Arab and American individuals, we are making a real difference to lives of young children,” said Paul Butler, ANERA’s country director