A First in Arabic Children's Book Publishing

2017 — Books for our Children

Building Bridges of Peace for Refugee Children in Jordan

Through a year-long partnership with Jordanian authors, illustrators and publishers, Room to Read creates a new collection of twenty original children’s books in Arabic — a first of its kind, telling stories of home, of fitting in and of friendship in the Middle East.

Watch: Room to Read in Jordan

By the Numbers: Room to Read's Jordan Project

20 — new original titles produced

44 — authors and illustrators involved in the project

3 — Jordanian publishing houses

600,000 — books distributed to refugee communities and every school in Jordan.

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“If you can change the stories, you can change the future.”

H.E. Dr. Omar Al Razzaz Prime Minister of Jordan

Why Jordan?

Jordan’s population has ballooned as people seek refuge from nearby conflict. The Ministry of Education is responding to an education crisis, working to educate more than half a million more students than it is equipped to manage. At the launch event for our collection of Arabic children's books in Amman, then Minister of Education and current Prime Minister, His Excellency Dr. Omar Al Razzaz described a single Grade 3 classroom in the heart of Amman being filled with students from seven countries, including Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Jordan.

Project Manager Julie Elis talks about creating children's books in Jordan »

Learn more about our work in the Middle East >>


An oasis amidst the shifting sands of conflict

Neighboring Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Saudi Arabia, Jordan sits at the crossroads of a region that has experienced generations of conflict, yet Jordan itself has become, for many, a refuge. Despite having one of the smallest economies in the Middle East, Jordan has opened its doors to millions uprooted by conflict and civil unrest.


The first wave of mass immigration to Jordan begins as thousands of Palestinians seek refuge following the Israeli declaration of independence and ensuing Arab-Israeli War.


The wave of immigration continues as Jordan becomes home to Lebanese fleeing a decades-long civil war, and then to Iraqis amidst the 1991 Gulf War and following destabilization in Iraq.


An estimated 660,000-plus Syrians have sought refuge in Jordan, fleeing a devastating civil war. An estimated 220,000 are school-aged children.

Just One Letter Separates Love and War

In Arabic, the words for Love حب and War حرب are separated by just one letter ( ر the r). In "A Plane that Brings Love," created as part of this collection by Room to Read partner Jabal Amman Publishers, author Wafa T. Qusous and illustrator Kamil Adil tell the story of Samer, a young hero who witnesses war in his country and stitches together a plan for love from war to change the future.

Download Love

In observance of World Refugee Day, Jabal Amman Publishers has generously allowed us to share "A Plane That Brings Love" with you. Download your bilingual English/Arabic copy for free today.

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It's Story Time!

Watch as Amman-based storyteller Tareq Krayim brings three incredible titles from the collection to life for children in Amman, including "A Plane That Brings Love."

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Help More Children

You can help make sure children, no matter where they're born, or where they're forced to flee, can access the one thing that can never be taken away. Education.

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Helping Refugee Kids Just be Kids

In times of crisis, formal education often suffers and a second silent crisis begins as a generation of young people lose access to the benefits of high-quality learning environments.

When Room to Read began building our Jordan project plan, how to address the needs of refugee children was at the forefront of our thinking. During the course of the project, we invited college-age Syrian refugee students to speak to our creators about their experience, to help us understand how we could help children in this crisis.

Several books from this collection were designed specifically to address the needs of refugee children. Others were pure flights of fancy. Each served an important purpose. A common sentiment among the publishers and creators involved was a hope that these books help the children living in this crisis feel they can see themselves on the page, feel that they are not alone, and also, to be able to laugh, play and have fun with the characters that live in these pages.

35 Children's Books to Read for World Refugee Day

“With these books, I hope that they can find some sort of relief.”

Flora Majdalawi Co-founder, Majdalawi Masterpieces

Book Distribution at Al Zaatari Refugee Camp

Majdalawi Masterpieces, one of Room to Read's publishing partners in Jordan, helped distribute sets of the twenty-book collection at Al Zaatari Refugee Camp a short drive from the capital, Amman. 

Flora Majdalawi, co-founder of Majdalawi Masterpieces said of the project, "Right now in Jordan, there are so many displaced children. With these books, I hope that they can find some sort of relief, and that they can provide some sort of escapist experience that will let them forget, even for a few moments about the harsh reality. I'm hoping also that these books can establish a strong bond between these children and the written word, so that they can build a positive relationship with a book with the rest of their lives

With the help of The Road magazine volunteers, Dr. Farouk Majdalawi, Room to Read's distributor in Jordan distributed 24,000 books at Al Zaatari Refugee Camp, about an hour's drive northwest of the capital, Amman and six miles from the Syrian border. Dr. Farouk and his wife Hiyam, a contributing author in the project, also held storytelling sessions for the children there.

2019 — Sesame Workshop — 13 Arabic Big Books

Upon receiving the MacArthur Award, Sesame Workshop created the Middle Eastern project “Ahlan Simsim” and selected Room to Read as a partner to help develop storybooks and reading materials for refugee children. These were used in four countries in the Middle East — Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Our team worked with local authors and illustrators to create 13 original Arabic big books to be used for reading in large groups and classrooms. The local illustrators experienced a unique Illustrator’s Workshop during which they were trained by Room to Read artists and Sesame Street creators on how to illustrate new Sesame Middle East characters. 

These books were printed and distributed across the region and enjoyed by children alongside the other Ahlan Simsim materials. A news article featuring some of our work can be found here. And on Twitter here. 

Sesame workshop group picture.

2020–2021 — 40 Book adaptations and distribution

Room to Read worked with a local partner, The Queen Rania Foundation, to adapt 40 children’s books from Room to Read’s international collection into Arabic for distribution in Jordan.  

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Room to Read supported our partners in Jordan virtually. In order to ensure alignment in the creation of “ideal” school library book list across publishing ecosystem stakeholders, we completed a workshop and study with members of the Ministry of Education, publishers, and authors. This study identified gaps in Jordan’s children’s book market, which helped to guide the library list development.

We also leveraged existing resources to bring more books to children more quickly by engaging the Ministry of Education to select 40 from Room to Read’s global book collection. We then hosted an adaptation workshop in which authors, illustrators and book creators, to adapt the language of the books from English into Arabic and to ensure all the images were appropriate for the Jordanian context. The books went through a strict approval process with the Ministry, and were printed in sets of 6,500 making 260,000 books in total. Finally, they were distributed across all 3,000 public schools in Jordan.

These 40 titles can be found on Room to Read’s digital library, Literacy Cloud, along with all our Arabic titles here.

In order to better help teachers and parents in using these titles, Room to Read produced read aloud videos of several adapted titles. These videos are also available on Literacy Cloud, here.

Picture of book title

2022– 2024 – READ! School Library Project

Building on our book publishing work in Jordan, we have continued our partnership with the Queen Rania Foundation to implement the Read! — School Library Project that establishes 48 public school libraries between 2022 and 2024 and cultivates a culture of reading among children in Jordan. 

As of December 2022, Room to Read and the Queen Rania Foundation: 

  • Adapted the Room to Read library model for the Jordan primary school context.
  • Updated Jordan’s Ideal Book Collection, a process which began in 2020.
  • Partnered with the first 20 schools to pilot the Room to Read library model.
  • Administered virtual and in-person library trainings for literacy coaches, Ministry of Education partners and school staff, including headmasters, librarians and teachers. 97 people were training in 2022.
  • Established and opened 20 child-friendly public-school libraries.
  • Supported teachers with the knowledge and skills to conduct fun and engaging reading activities with children.

Every Child Deserves an Education.

Our work is not done. Millions of children still lack the great books, teachers and support they need and Room to Read is uniquely positioned to rise to the challenge of bringing education to vulnerable communities.

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