Story of a Child-centered Library Longing for Children to Visit

In late autumn, one of the teachers at Nabovvat Elementary School, a school in the marginal regions of Tehran, joined the Read with Me program through the One Teacher, One Classroom, One Library campaign. She requested the establishment of a child-centered library.

The Read with Me team started preparations for this new addition to the family. However, the process was brought to a halt due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

In May 2020, the team decided on completing the library and finding alternative ways of promoting reading among the students.

For more details, you can read part of an interview with the teacher behind this library:

What has been your motivation in reading promotion among children?

When I started working as a teacher, I took an oath to devote myself not only to teaching, but to value children’s growth and development. When I was introduced to the Read with Me program and participated in the workshops, I knew I had found the way to realize my wish. The workshops motivated me to consider reading quality books to children as means of reaching my goals as a teacher.

How did you come up with the decision to establish a library in Nabovvat School?

Before joining the Read with Me program, I used to arrange monthly visits to the neighborhood public library. But there were problems involved. It was small and didn’t have enough seats for all of my students. In addition to that, my students were mischievous first graders who did not maintain silence.

Upon joining the Read with Me program and holding weekly read-aloud sessions in my classroom, I gradually saw the effectiveness of read-alouds on their learning and behavior. I wanted to do the same thing for all students within my school. Therefore, instead of taking students to a library, I came up with the idea of bringing a library to students! I talked about my idea with Ms. Safaei (a Read with Me expert) and she transferred it to the Read with Me team.

Tell us of the process involved in establishing a library. What challenges did you face along the way?

At first, I had to introduce the Read with Me program to the school principal and seek her approval. She in turn had to get the necessary licenses for the library from the Education Office.

Thereupon, the Read with Me team visited our school to introduce the program objectives and the functions a child-centered library to all teachers. This session encouraged some teachers to implement the program in their classrooms as well. Therefore, Ms. Safaei held read-aloud and children’s literature workshops for them.

Soon enough, with help from the Read with Me team, we started preparing the necessary equipment. We were down to the final stages when schools were suddenly closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Our school didn’t have a library and we always held read-aloud sessions in the prayer room. I would tell children that they would soon have a library of their own. A library in which they could be comfortable. They were so excited about it too. “When will we go to our own library?” they would ask.

We had read-aloud Elmer, the Patchwork Elephant. As a follow-up activity, we had made banners and decorations. I had asked children to keep those banners to decorate our library with and celebrate Elmer Day. But unfortunately, Covid-19 put a stop to all of these. We were all heartbroken. But I didn’t want to upset children more than they already were. So, I managed to keep holding read-aloud sessions through Whatsapp.

When the schools were reopened on 16 May 2020, I received the book packages and began categorizing. I immediately sent a photo of the books to children and said “Our library books are finally here! Hopefully you can all visit the library in summer and we can read books together.” This news made children and their families extremely happy.

Right now, we are impatiently waiting for the day Ava Library can finally be opened to children.

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