Reaching out to children in crisis is one of the fundamental goals of the “Read with Me” program, which is why Read with Me experts are responsible to be around these children and assuage them. Therefore, ever since the beginnings of the series of destructive floods all over Iran in spring 2019, Read with Me experts have been attempting to evaluate the possibilities and conditions to organize a schedule for helping flooded regions in Lorestan, Khouzestan and Golestan Provinces. Read with Me hopes to utilize its 2-year long experience among children shaken by the Kermanshah earthquakes for this pursuit.

The past experiences of Read with Me in crisis-stricken areas has shown that when the basic conditions start to improve, a lot of the relief teams abandon the areas. Therefore, in addition to dispatching trained volunteers along with book backpacks and packages to flooded regions immediately after the crisis, Read with Me plans ahead by providing a continuous, goal-oriented training for volunteers, tutors and locals. Read with Me especially emphasizes on establishing child-centered libraries as everlasting bases for the education of children and their families.

Accordingly, on 13-14 June 2019, a series of Read with Me workshops was held for 35 tutors and volunteers of Gouriyeh, a flooded city in Khouzestan Province. Most of the participants were young local women. During these two days, two Read with Me experts held “Learning Phonological Awareness Skills”, “Learning Phonemic Awareness Skills”, “Learning Numeracy Skills through Literature” and “Dramatic Arts” workshops in the city library. Read with Me experts believe that since children are bilingual in this region, the Basic Literacy Creative Education methods can be very effective.

Earlier in May 2019, Ms. Dabbagh, a Read with Me expert had held a shorter version of a workshop on how to hold reading sessions for children with 40 participants.

In the Basic Literacy workshops, participants learned how to use the Basic Literacy packages as well as creative methods for teaching sounds and phonemes to children. They also learned how to prepare children through stories, songs, music and games to read and write.

In the Numeracy Skills workshop, Read with Me experts explained the creative methods through which mathematics can be taught. In theory and practice, participants learned how these methods indirectly encourage children to think and acquire an in-depth knowledge of mathematical concepts through stories and related activities.

And finally, in the Dramatic Arts workshop, participants learned to build masks and hand puppets so that they could bring the characters of the Basic Literacy and Numeracy packages into life through art.

At the end of the Read with Me workshops, Basic Literacy packages were distributed among the participants so that they could alternately make use of what they had learned and hold Reading Aloud sessions for nearby villages as well.

Aside from Read with Me workshops, Read with Me experts also held a session with 19 mothers from Gouriyeh to teach them about the role of mother in a child’s development and to teach them the basics of Reading Aloud. The session was well-received and the mothers suggested to continue holding such sessions.

Read with Me hopes to keep this project running and to provide the necessary conditions and space for establishing a child-centered library in this region with help from locals and supporters.

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