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Psychosocial Digital Book Collection for Syrian Refugee and Jordanian Children

Providing 50,000 Syrian and Jordanian families with digital books and a reading campaign focused on support and emotional healing.

Photo of Morgan C
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are currently over 650,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan. Most Syrian refugee children have been exposed to violence, stress, and loss. Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children and have limited instructional hours when they do attend. Parents and community organizations struggle to meet the educational and psychosocial needs of children and need simple, scalable tools that contribute to the learning and emotional needs of children as well as support relations with host communities.

Our program, known as “Tuta-Tuta”, uses a mobile application called Worldreader Kids to bring digital books, a reading campaign, and reading support to 50,000 refugee and host community families. Tuta-Tuta aims to improve the home literacy environment and promote psychosocial support and peacebuilding in both refugee and Jordanian host communities through a collection of children’s books that explore themes like conflict resolution, social cohesion, and empathy.

The right books and reading support can promote positive interactions between refugee and host communities. Community libraries, informal learning centers, and schools will act as promoters of our digital collection and help weave a culture of storytelling and reading that supports learning, emotional recovery, and peace-building.

Investing in the educational and psychosocial needs of children has been shown to be a powerful antidote to economic inequality and contributes to improved educational and health outcomes over time. Digital reading is scalable and can contribute to fostering social cohesion and peacebuilding in this generation of children.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

50,000 children from vulnerable refugee and host communities across Jordan will benefit from the Tuta-Tuta digital library. The widespread penetration of mobile phones among households in Jordan coupled with relatively high literacy rates among parents and caregivers means that the mobile app that hosts the Tuta-Tuta library is broadly accessible to a majority of households. Our app will add value to existing libraries, schools, community centers, and informal humanitarian education centers by embedding our collection, campaign collateral, and training tools into their service offerings.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The limited availability of children’s books coupled with high book prices means most households in Jordan are not reading to their children. Worldreader Kids is the only free Arabic children’s storybook app in Jordan containing hundreds of titles sourced from local and international publishers. Constant internet connection is not required and books can be downloaded and read offline.

This project promotes behavior change in parents through a messaging campaign involving influencers from the community, schools, and social media. Our blended approach to program design uses both digital and traditional programming support to favor reading adoption. Scalability of digital books to tens of thousands of families can be achieved at low cost as the majority of refugees own mobile phones.

Finally, the psychosocial collection is unique in that it combines relevant content with parent and caregiver activities to support dialogue and positive interactions between adults and children.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Worldreader is a global nonprofit organization that champions digital reading in under-resourced communities to create a world where everyone can be a reader. www.worldreader.org

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Worldreader is passionate about the value of reading and the transformative power of books. We’ve learned that many parents are seeking children’s content on their mobile devices around the world. Storybooks are great tools for parents and caregivers to approach themes of loss or recovery. We see this project as an opportunity to both address the lack of children’s books in the home and provide parents with books that support emotional recovery.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The well-being of Syrian refugee and Jordanian children is being challenged as resources are stretched, schools struggle to accommodate high numbers of students, and social tensions increase due to feelings of instability. School attendance rates among refugee children are below those of their Jordanian peers. Reports of bullying and corporal punishment have been documented. Few homes have reading materials or stories that encourage empathy, dialogue, and coexistence.

Research has shown the link between education, peace, and prosperity. Education begins with reading and the social and emotional skills that foster learning. A limited education and poor social and emotional competencies negatively impact communities. Access to books and reading support helps parents and caregivers explore stories of resilience and peace not demonstrable in everyday life.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We will partner with local community organizations and NGOs working in the region that have existing informal education and psychosocial programs. These partners work with schools, local libraries, cultural centers, and camps. Local and international publishing partners will help us develop a culturally-relevant content collection. Community based partners will help co-create activities that accompany stories to engage parents and children. Local organizations will help us promote positive parent-child interaction in the home, increase the amount of reading materials available to families and explore how storytelling can contribute to resilience and peacebuilding. We will work with each partner organization to enhance their existing programming to favor sustainable use of the program.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

In the Middle East, there is an existing practice of communal storytelling that provides a cultural foundation for the importance of storytelling as well as this project. Our focus groups have shown that parents and organizations want reading materials for children and believe that with digital books and reading support, caregivers will make the investment of reading aloud to their children.

Geographic Focus

Tuta-Tuta is designed for Syrian refugees and Jordanian host communities.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The timeline is approximately 15 months, including content curation and digitization, partner selection, project implementation, and evaluation.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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Photo of Jaskeerat Bedi
Team

Hi Morgan C ! Very excited to read about Tuta Tuta (does it mean something?) and worldreader.org's initiative to use education as a bridge builder for peace and prosperity for Syrian and Jordanian families. Am curious to learn, through your program, how many families have downloaded the app, how often do they use it? What are some unique messaging that your program did encouraged parent-child interaction? Is the messaging 'mother' orientated or father orientated or child orientated? Adding Dima Boulad here, who I am sure might be curious to learn more about this initiative..

How do you ensure that cultural/contextual/native language stories and thoughts are encouraged and spread, especially in a very English dominant domain?!

I saw some cool artifacts that children have created to keep a log about their reading here- https://www.worldreader.org/blog/worldreader-kids-partners-jordanian-schools-get-families-reading/. It would be wonderful to see some of the material that have come out of Tuta- Tuta!

Photo of Morgan C
Team

Thank you for your comments and support Jaskeerat!

Tuta Tuta is how many Arabic children's books end (similar to "And they lived happily ever after" in English).

In Jordan we are not planning on launching until mid August so there are no families using the app but we hope that we can reach around 50,000 families over the length of the project. In India we reached over 203,000 households through a blended approach
of traditional and digital marketing outreach, as well as community-based organizations. 57,000 individuals browsed the library and read at least one book and nearly 7,000 households changed their reading habits and became “frequent readers” (individuals reading from the application at least four times a month).

In Jordan we will use message related to the bonding that takes place between parent and child when they read together which we found to be the most important perceived benefit to reading to children by parents in the focus groups that we conducted in Jordan. Messaging is aimed at parents (both mothers and fathers) but is make to be "child friendly" so that children also fine the visual elements of the messaging catchy and fun.
All of our stories in the Tuta Tuta collection were sourced from publishers within the region (mainly Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt) and the majority of the content was written in Arabic (ie, was not translated from another language) in order to ensure that content was relevant and contextually appropriate. Supporting local publishers and authors at the local level is one of Worldreader's core pillars.

Please let us know if you have any other questions around this initiative!

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