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Latest News from Maktabat al-Fanoos (Lantern Library) book program in Israel
October 2016 
Dear Friends, 
Maktabat al-Fanoos (Lantern Library) is thrilled to begin its third year – with the distribution of our books starting in mid-September. We will be serving more than 90,000 children and their families this year, both in Arabic-speaking public and semi-private schools in Israel.
This year's book selection includes an unprecedented number of titles by first time local Arab children’s authors.

Maktabat al-Fanoos is more than just books: The program is prompting increased community activities, from storytelling and plays, to fun days and after-school activities. And it is getting a boost from efforts to encourage parents to read to their children. 

Find out more about all these developments below!

Galina Vromen
Director Maktabat al-Fanoos

Executive Director, Grinspoon Israel Foundation

 Three years – one million books
The start of our third school year marks also the distribution of the one millionth book of Maktabat al-Fanoos! We are proud to have reached 150,000 children and their families with books since the program began in January 2014. Last year, for the first time, we not only served 100% of children in Arab public preschools in Israel – all of whom receive the books for free -- but we also opened up the program to semi-private schools at cost. More than 90% of those semi-private schools chose to stay in the program this year – and new organizations are joining this year. In addition to books for the children, teachers receive two classroom copies, and are offered training on how best to incorporate the books into the classroom.
 Adding spice with storytelling
There’s nothing like theatrical storytelling to make a book come alive for a child.  That’s why program partner Bidayat Early Childhood Centers and Programs, supported by Price Philanthropies, is launching a storytelling course at Al-Qasemi Academic College to increase the supply of top-rate storytellers who will make it possible for children to experience books and stories in fun, exciting new ways. This builds on work in previous years by Bidayat with actors who last year created two productions related to Maktabat al-Fanoos books – seen by about 4,000 children!

Dramatization of the story "The Dot"

Theatrical presentation based on "Nicolas Where Have You Been?"

Promoting shared parent-child reading

The evidence keeps mounting that shared parent-child reading has huge benefits for children’s cognitive and emotional growth. To help get the message across to parents that shared reading is important – and fun – program partner Keren Grinspoon Israel has developed a series of video clips aimed at parents to drive the point home with funding from the Salomon Family Foundation. We are working to assure the clips will be used in a variety of settings – on social media, in waiting rooms at health clinics and by teachers – to increase parental awareness. To date, the clips have garnered tens of thousands of views. 

Exciting new books by local authors

Maktabat al-Fanoos is incentivizing local Arabic writers and would-be writers to create new children’s books. 

"Where Do I Go When I'm Angry?" by Malak Farooge Abu-Raiya​ - one of several new books by local authors

Take the case of Malak Farooge Abu-Raiya, a social worker at a shelter for battered women who dreamed of writing children’s books. 

She joined a writing workshop organized by the Israeli Center for Libraries. Her text, for a book called Where Do I Go When I Am Angry, developed in the workshop, was illustrated and turned into a book – and accepted by our book selection committee for distribution this year.  

Local playwright Hanna Shamas from Haifa is also about to see his first children’s book published for Maktabat al-Fanoos.

Books by experienced children’s book authors Safah Amir, of Jerusalem, and Aliya Abu-Shmaise, of Jaffa, are part of the year’s line-up. 

Training the trainers

Bidayat organized a two-day advanced training session in August, attended by 20 Ministry of Education teacher trainers, which focused on how Maktabat al-Fanoos books can be used to stimulate meaningful conversations with children and encourage children’s self-expression.
An additional two-day session is planned for later this year, bringing together trainers again with leading edge researchers and experts on children’s literature, early childhood shared reading and adult-child dialogue. This is part of ongoing training Bidayat provides to Maktabat al-Fanoos, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. Last year, 8 advanced training courses of 30-hours each were attended by a total of 180 teachers to strengthen the integration of the program in class and in work with parents.


Maktabat al-Fanoos prompts community activity

From year to year, the range of community events around Maktabat al-Fanoos grows. Last year, this included comprehensive community programs initiated by Bidayat with Ministry of Education superintendents in the communities of Ara'ra, Bakaa el-Gharbiya and Jat.

In Lod and Ramla, displays of art projects based on our books were organized in preschool playgrounds and libraries. In other communities, children paraded through town with banners reading “I read therefore I think” and in Jaffa, 29 Jewish and Arab teachers organized fun afternoon activities carried out simultaneously across the city around books from Maktabat al-Fanoos and Sifriyat Pijama, its sister program in Hebrew.

this link to understand the buzz our program is creating.


Book activity in a park in Jaffa.

Children paraded through Dir el-Assad with banners reading “I read therefore I think”

Community book-related activities with grandparents, public book reading and dramatization


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