Children in Gaza Discover Magic of Reading

April 15, 2016 ANERA
Early Childhood Development, Education, Gaza, Psychosocial, School Infrastructure
Children in Gaza preschool get new reading bags. The children at Ghassan Kanafani preschool and four other Gaza schools get new reading bags to complement early childhood development program.

Children intuitively love listening to stories. Storytelling can play a critical role in developing a child’s personality. “Storytelling connects children in Gaza to their culture and their heritage and serves as an escape from the stress and strain of their surrounding reality,” says trainer Tahani Daloul. “Books are their building blocks for a better future.”

Helping Children in Gaza Read and Express Themselves

Tahani says storytelling can fuel a child’s imagination and a love of learning and also expand understanding of the world. Her ultimate goal, she explains, is to change the traditional methods of education and energize teachers to offer more varied strategies for reading.

With funding from Islamic Relief USA, ANERA has bolstered reading programs in five preschools in Gaza, through renovations, equipping classrooms with child-appropriate furnishing and learning materials as well as training teachers in creative teaching techniques. The schools are located in Khan Younis, Deir El Balah, Jabalia and Rafah.

At the Ghassan Kanafani preschool in Jabalia, children gather around their teacher, eagerly listening to a story about a farmer and a carrot.

Children in Gaza dress up as characters in story

Children dress up as the characters in a story about a farmer and a carrot.

“The story underlines the importance of participation, cooperation and teamwork. How the animals of the farm were united to help the farmer in pulling out the cord to remove the orange carrot stuck into the ground. Otherwise, the farmer would not be able to take it out by himself. How the team efforts is important and needed to access goals. After telling the story, the children dressed up with the costumes of the farm’s animals and performed a short play about the farm.”

“By telling stories with a meaningful message, you can talk to youngsters about basic values like courage and honesty,” says preschool teacher Zaynab El Jamal.

Reading is Crucial to Development

Zaynab, a preschool teachers, reads to children in Gaza.

Preschool teacher Zaynab reads to her students.

Using techniques she learned from ANERA trainers, Zaynab varied her narration, using puppets and acting out parts of the story. She already notices a difference in one student’s behavior because of the more animated storytelling style. Mohammed’s mother used to complain that he never paid attention, didn’t drink his milk and didn’t listen to her. Zaynab says she reads stories to the whole class to encourage Mohammed and his classmates to talk and listen. “We talk about pictures in the story that are familiar to them and it’s a great chance for them to open up about their feelings.”

The mother has reported a significant change in her son’s behavior. She also noticed his vocabulary is expanding.

“Reading out stories is also a great way to teach children new words and pronunciation,” says teacher Zaynab.

Zaynab says developing a reading routine in the classroom and distributing books to children fosters more reading at home too. “It’s a magical tool that can give children a lifelong love of learning.”

Children in Gaza learn to love reading.

Teacher Zaynab, young Mohammed, and the class at Ghassan Kanafani are excited about their new reading materials and classroom renovations.

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