There were bookshelves lining the busy classrooms in Jordan, but they were nearly empty. The children had almost nothing engaging to read.
Then a shipment arrived from Scholastic, the largest publisher and distributor of children's books in the world and a leader in educational technology and children’s media. In it were 200 children’s books – titles such as The Magic School Bus®, Owen and Mzee and Heidi – translated into Arabic and adapted to the culture.
Scholastic and the U.S. Department of State have sent more than 7 million books like these into classrooms across the Middle East and North Africa — and trained thousands of teachers — as part of a program called My Arabic Library. The program provides schools with translated editions of quality Scholastic children’s books.
My Arabic Library, created by Scholastic and funded through the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), provides classrooms with something many of them have never had: age-appropriate fiction and non-fiction books that help young students develop independent, critical thinking and reading skills.
Spreading the love of reading to children in Arabic-speaking nations, My Arabic Library will have reached more than 2.5 million students and sent 7 million books to six countries by December 2007, Scholastic announced today.
“It thrills us to know that millions of children, many of whom never had access to quality books like these, will now get to experience stories that capture their imaginations and teach them about the world,” said Carol Sakoian, vice president, Scholastic International. “Scholastic’s mission has always been to promote the love of reading, and to use books to help children grow and learn about the world around them. My Arabic Library is a great example of how seriously we take that mission.”
“Communities can be transformed when children and teachers have the tools they need, which is why the Middle East Partnership Initiative invests in educational reforms that impact students right in their classrooms,” said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scott Carpenter. “My Arabic Library is helping people and governments in the Middle East approach education in a whole new way.”
Once each 200-book library is shipped to a classroom, Scholastic holds training sessions for teachers to learn how to use these new materials. Each library contains 30 to 40 titles per grade (1 through 6). Posters and teacher’s guides are also included.
Scholastic, with support from MEPI, has implemented the program in Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain and Morocco, and by the end of the calendar year expects to launch My Arabic Library in Libya. With additional funding support from the State Department, Scholastic is bringing this extraordinary program to Iraqi children and teachers, as well, sending more than 650,000 books to grade 4 and 5 classrooms in that country.
More than 7 million books have reached the five countries now participating in the MEPI-sponsored My Arabic Library program:
- 267,000 in Bahrain
- 650,000 in Iraq
- 2.9 million in Jordan
- 1.5 million in Lebanon
- 2 million in Morocco
More then 2.3 million students in four of those countries now have access to My Arabic Library titles in their classrooms:
- 90,000 in Bahrain
- 1 million in Jordan
- 600,000 in Lebanon
- 700,000 in Morocco
The Middle East Partnership Initiative, which supports greater freedom and opportunity for people in the region, has devoted more than $293 million in four years to reformers so democracy can spread, education can thrive, economies can grow and women can be empowered. For more information, about MEPI, please visit: www.mepi.state.gov
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books and a leader in educational technology. Scholastic creates quality educational and entertaining materials and products for use in school and at home, including children's books, magazines, technology-based products, teacher materials, television programming, film, videos and toys. The Company distributes its products and services through a variety of channels, including proprietary school-based book clubs, school-based book fairs, and school-based and direct-to-home continuity programs; retail stores, schools, libraries and television networks; and the Company's Internet site, www.scholastic.com