Reading is essential to the development of children’s personality, imagination, and cognitive skills. Children must learn to love and enjoy reading to reap its benefits. Research has shown that reading aloud is key in fostering the love of reading. The We Love Reading (WLR) program is an innovative model that provides a practical, cost efficient, sustainable, grassroots approach that involves youth, women and men and the community to increase reading levels among children by focusing on the read aloud experience to plant the love of reading. WLR constitutes training local youth, women and men (WLR ambassadors) to hold reading sessions in public spaces in their neighborhoods where books are routinely read aloud to children in their native language. This is our “WLR library”. WLR chooses books that are age-appropriate, attractive, neutral in content, and in the native language of the child. In addition to promoting the experience of reading, WLR empowers youth and women readers to become leaders in their communities, builds ownership in the children and community members and serves as a platform for raising awareness on issues such as health and environment by reading stories about such issues.
My plan with the 2018 Klaus J. Jacobs Award
Our vision is to reach every child in every neighborhood. Using the latest technology and pedagogy we will develop an online course in multiple languages to train on how to start WLR in your community. We will upgrade our mobile application to include multiple languages so that all WLR ambassadors around the world can be connected to share challenges, success stories and resources to ensure sustainability, quality and continuity. The app is an M and E tool and will include resources, experts, good practices, children literature, references and a shared community of support for parents to learn about reading and social emotional wellbeing of their children especially 0-5 years of age. Develop children’s books in local languages from local stories around the world to be used for reading aloud for children to take home. Conduct research on the quantitative impact of WLR on the social and emotional status of the children and youth involved with the WLR Program.
How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
Through reading aloud not only do children begin to love reading and engage in it for their enjoyment, they also become less violent, more empathetic, and more resilient and positive. The success expands beyond children. Adults and youth who were involved in WLR became leaders, found work and created their own businesses, becoming social entrepreneurs because they have realized their potential and ability to make a difference. The parents of the children who in many cases are the WLR volunteers themselves start to find hope and a way to communicate with their children to relieve trauma and build resilience through reading. The community starts to support reading and change moving from being dependent on others to taking control and being the change they want to see. Most importantly WLR believes in starting very early, as early as when the mother is pregnant because reading aloud by the parent promotes the connections between the neurons in the brains of the children.
Planting the Love of Reading