Open a Book, Spark an Imagination

Igniting a love of reading among Syrian refugees

Taghyeer is an organization in Jordan that helps children learn to love reading. Founder Rana Dajani says she was inspired to start reading aloud to children weekly in her own neighborhood after noting that there was no real culture of reading among her children or their friends. One by one, Rana began to train other women to do the same, and before long they formed the organization Taghyeer. Rana and her team have been steadily training reading volunteers ever since and have seen their simple, community-based intervention take off beyond their wildest dreams.

Taghyeer sponsors reading circles for children in Jordan and is expanding its efforts into refugee camps.

Then the Syrian war broke out, and refugees began to stream into Jordan en masse—seeking safety in camps along the border.

Recognizing the trauma these families had endured and the limited formal schooling opportunities available in camps, Rana and her team knew they wanted to get involved, and began training reading volunteers in a new context—Zaatari refugee camp.

The Zaatari refugee camp is vast, and now the second largest city in Jordan.

But with millions of refugees flooding out of Syria (Zaatari is now the second largest city in Jordan), and even more across the Arab world, their model needed a redesign. Taghyeer responded to our Refugee Education Challenge proposing a set of tools and materials that help refugee women and men build a network of informal learning hubs around the camps and spark a love of reading among displaced children across the Arab world.

Taghyeer trains reading volunteers to help kids develop a love of books and learning.

Our team joined Taghyeer in Jordan in 2015 to help bring this vision to life as a locally-fueled movement entitled (in English) Open a Book, Spark an Imagination. Inspired by Taghyeer’s early successes and the stories we heard from Syrian refugees in Zaatari, we designed a brand, a suite of training tools, a service model, and a partnership strategy that now allows Taghyeer to deploy their intervention quickly through local partnerships with organizations working in any refugee setting. To help Taghyeer track progress, we also designed an SMS-based monitoring system. In addition to helping the organization track their impact, the information can also be shared with reading volunteers, to connect their individual contribution to the larger movement.

We Love Reading has trained 70 reading ambassadors, who read to more than 1,000 children each week across three Jordanian refugee camps.

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