I did not imagine that reading stories aloud is something very important for me and my kids, from this moment I will devote time every day to read to my children. —Nermin, a mother who attended a training in Gaza with Palestine Writing Workshop Director Maya Abu Alhayyat

MECA funded the publication of five beautiful new children’s book by contemporary Palestinian writers and illustrators, along with reading-aloud training and free books for women in several West Bank communities. As children are exposed to new stories and experience the joys of being read to, their reading skills along with their love of books and learning increases. Two of the new books won the prestigious Etisalat Awards for Arabic Children’s Literature. Berkat Al Asela Al Zarqa’a (The Pool of Blue Questions), written by Maya Abu Alhayyat, illustrated by Hassan Monasira won the award in the Best Production category and Bolqosh, written and illustrated by Yara Bamieh won for Best Illustration.

Reading Suffers Under Occupation

Public schools in most areas of Palestine are not able to meet the needs of their students; there are few public libraries; and the publication of new, engaging books for children is rare. They are often too crowded with 40 or 50 students in a classroom. Sometimes schools even run in shifts to accommodate all the children. Many children face learning difficulties because they have experienced traumatic incidents like home demolition, violence, or arrest.

Location: Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps in the West Bank

The West Bank is a part of Palestine that has been under Israeli occupation since 1967. It covers 2,270 square miles and is home to approximately 2.6 million Palestinians. In small areas of the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which was created under the terms of the supposedly interim Oslo Accords during the 1990s, exercises some governing responsibilities but exists under of the Israeli military. Israel's separation wall, checkpoints and Illegal Israeli settlements have taken Palestinian land and cut off thousands of Palestinians from their farmlands, employment, education, and medical care.