June 20, 2022
On this World Refugee Day, Room to Read is excited to announce its recent investment in the publication and distribution of books to immigrant and refugee children from Afghanistan. These books, which explore themes related to refugee resettlement, were created to help children process their experience of adjusting to a new home and culture.
In the past year, thousands of Afghan children and their families have faced displacement and immigrated to foreign countries to build a new life. At Room to Read, we know that books have the power to help young readers develop resilience and better understand the world around them. We are committed to using our expertise in children's literacy development and book publishing to provide Afghan refugee children with access to books that reflect their own experiences.
In collaboration with our partner, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), Room to Read has adapted 28 children’s book titles for Afghan children resettling in Pakistan. These titles are available in both Dari and Pashto, the two majority languages spoken by the Afghan community. More than 100,000 books will be distributed by ITA so that children have the benefit of reading material in their own language at the start of the new Pakistan school year.
Titles include a a diverse selection of stories, chosen from Room to Read’s global book collection by individuals local to Pakistan, including representatives from the book creator community and the Ministry of Education. While some stories touch on themes related to friendship, bravery, happiness and play, others are intended to offer respite for children experiencing stress and looking to comprehend new life changes.
To support recently resettled Afghan families and children in the United States, Room to Read will be distributing its 12-book Afghan Children’s Book Collection to communities in California, Oklahoma, Texas and Virgnia with a large population of immigrant and refugee Afghan children.
Room to Read will partner with three organizations — Episcopal Migration Ministries, First Book and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — to distribute more than 51,600 books in Dari and Pashto to Afghan children through at-home, afterschool and summer programs, as well as to educators who work in communities with students resettled from Afghan. Room to Read will provide guidance so that educators and caregivers can foster reading habits and literacy skills among the children in their communities.
The Afghan Children’s Book Collection covers a range of engaging stories — from the narrative of a young boy who imagines spreading peace during war with a “love plane” to the adventures of three ducklings who look for shelter during a storm to the journey of an immigrant Palestinian child making friendships in a new country.
To understand the educational challenges refugees in the United States face and to identify geographical areas in which investments in children’s books would make the greatest difference, Room to Read commissioned a research study which found that, of Afghan refugees arriving in the U.S., 40 percent are children. Of children under five years, 98 percent did not have access to more than three children’s books while in Afghanistan. Moreover, the literacy rate within the Afghan community is 37.5 percent.
Titles selected for distribution to Afghan children were originally created for Syrian refugees in Jordan and authored and illustrated by creators from Jordan, Palestine, Syria and the United States. Books were selected for the collection from members of the Afghan community in the U.S. and adapted and translated into Dari and Pashto in consultation with Afghans living in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States.