Children of southern Tehran’s brick kilns, have been experiencing group reading sessions every summer for a few years now. A blessing made possible through Read with Me volunteers. Brick kiln workers migrate from far away villages and cities to southern Tehran every summer for 3 months and work in MahmoudAbad’s brick kilns. These workers comprise Iranian and foreign immigrant families.

This year, Reading Aloud sessions along with book-related activities will be held for more than 200 children from these families in three different brick kilns.

Accordingly, more than 300 books along with handbooks and activity sheets have been provided for Read with Me volunteers in the framework of the One Teacher, One Classroom, One Library Campaign.

A report from the very first day of program implementation this summer

  • Location: Brick Kilns – MahmoudAbad – Tehran
  • Date: June 2019
  • Book: Elmer, the Patchwork Elephant
  • Number of Children: 34
  • Volunteers: Ms. Angouri, Rafi’I, Fasihi

We arrived at the kiln at exactly 4:30. Children, with their sun-burned faces, greeted us enthusiastically. Some ran back to the main square to call their friends. Little by little, their number grew. They came to our help, bringing a carpet under the shade, sweeping and washing the ground. Then we all sat on the carpet. Surprisingly, a cool breeze made the heat tolerable.

At first, we started having conversations. Some said they had missed reading. The book we had chosen for that day was “Elmer, the Patchwork Elephant”. We talked about people’s differences and unique traits. Children talked about their own differences as examples. Then, we introduced the book and asked about the difference between a writer and a translator. Except for a couple of them, they didn’t have a clear answer. One of the didn’t know the difference between an author and a poet as well. We explained the difference simply.

Then we started Reading Aloud. Children were attentive and cooperated in the discussions. After having read it once, we asked if any of them wanted to read the book aloud. HabibRahman volunteered first. He Read the book to his friends from the illustrations. A while later, we realized that he had in fact never been to school. The interesting part was that children were as attracted to the story as the first time they had heard it.

As a post-Reading Aloud activity, we taught them how to make origami elephants. Older children helped the younger ones.

In the end, after giving them snacks, we bid them farewell as they followed us with glittering smiles. One of the children came to us at the very last moments to give us the phone number for one of his relatives. He insisted that we inform him the next time we have a Reading Aloud session. He said he would definitely want to be there.

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