Reading Clubs for Children and Young Adults in Iran

 
Publish Date : Saturday 9 November 2019 - 17:33
 
 
IBNA- The idea of a series of competitions in the format of football cup around ‎books ‎and reading by children is among the most innovative plans for ‎book promotion in Iran ‎which has been implemented in the country. ‎
 
An Iranian young adult reading club
Esmail Yazdanpour- After several years of practice and ‎development, the Cup of Reading Clubs for Children and Young Adults is ‎national event that is annually held in all over the country. Every year, a ‎group of writers for children travel to different cities and organize ‎workshops for local teachers, librarians, Kindergarten coaches, parents, ‎book promoters and everybody who is interested.
 
The workshop is about ‎how to read for children and how to organize a small community of ‎children for group reading. The “facilitators” who are trained in these ‎workshops start gathering and listing around 12 children and young adults ‎within the same age group for their reading clubs. When the clubs are ‎registered in bookpromotion.ir, the members can buy a number of books ‎at 50% discount in their local bookshop.
 
Every member buys at least one ‎book, reads it, brings it to the club and talks about it. Then the members ‎exchange book and through the 8 to 12 weeks of activity everybody in club ‎has read a number of books. They argue for and select the most favorable ‎book they have read, write a letter to their favorite author and make a one ‎minute film about it.‎
 
A Young Adult Reading C H lub
In addition to these minimum activities, the club performs any other ‎creative activity it feels good and necessary. Finally they must submit a ‎report on their activities for the secretariat, the profile is required to be ‎well-documented and it should include the name of the selected book, ‎collection of letters to writers, and the collection of short video clips on ‎books they have read. The best arguments and most creative plans, ‎performances and activities are the subject of competition at local, ‎regional and national levels. In the final ceremony, both the winner clubs ‎and the highly graded authors and illustrators are appreciated. ‎
 
Most of the clubs that are formed in this process continue to gather and ‎read even beyond the final round of competitions. ‎
 
History
Running a reading club is not a new idea and there are a variety of well-‎reported reading clubs all over the world. A reading club for children with ‎plans to competition at national level, however, is a new and fanciful; at ‎least the sheer participation of so many children proves this.

The first version of the idea was introduced to a school in Neyshabur, ‎demanding them to read and exchange books in small groups and form a ‎library in their classrooms. ‎An expanded version of the idea to run in a city found its way among the ‎programs of Neyshabur for her nomination as national book capital. Later ‎on, a group of writers for children worked on it for implementation at a ‎national level.

The educational system of Iran is an old system with heavy homework and ‎little room for children’s freedom and creativity and does not allow any ‎other organization to participate in the process. Therefore reading clubs ‎for students was transformed into an independent reading clubs for ‎children to make it free from the boundaries of schools and to invite a ‎variety of different stakeholders into the process. ‎
 
To make the idea more familiar, it was designed after popular football ‎club competitions. Cup has certain associations and connotations in both ‎Christian western world and ancient Persian world. ‎
 
Initially, given the special structure of Iranian society and government, ‎the idea was seen too ambitious and unconventional for ‎implementation, therefore only 15 candidate cities where selected as pilot. ‎These 15 cities were high profile cities during the previous round of ‎national book capital designation with active governmental and non-‎governmental bodies being present in the city. ‎
 
Afterward, a group of civil and non-governmental organizations such as the ‎Association of Writers for Children and Young Adults, Council for ‎Children’s Book and active book promotion groups were invited for ‎collaboration. They introduced a number of prominent writers, scholars, ‎activists and experts. The resulting group of people decided on a two day ‎workshop to discuss and decide on a concerted and coherent and ‎approach to book and its promotion across the country. The workshop ‎also resulted in the main plan for further workshops in every city. ‎
 
These were the workshop where a group of writers talked about their ‎experiences of book promotion in different rural and urban settings. ‎
 
In 2014 the writers and book promotion activists who have attended the ‎workshops travelled to different cities to run workshops. The ‘facilitators’ ‎who participated in these workshops were mostly local teachers, ‎librarians, NGO activists and a variety of other people with access to a ‎number of children in different setting, even in residential buildings. After ‎participation in a two day workshop, they were certified to build and run a ‎reading club for children or young adults.
 ‎
The number of cities and villages to run reading clubs increased to 102 in ‎the second year. In the third year, more than 1700 cities and villages have ‎volunteered for running reading clubs. ‎
 
Partners
Reading Clubs for Children and Young Adults is an event supported by a ‎variety of different civil and non-governmental organizations including ‎Association of Writers for Children and Young Adults, Network of Book ‎Promotion Groups, HAMI Association, Children Cultural Development ‎Center, some international partners including UNISEF, public institutes ‎such as municipalities, city councils, village councils, Iranian House of ‎Books, and governmental bodies such as Ministry of Culture, Center for ‎the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, Ministry of ‎Education, etc. ‎
 
Stages of Running Reading Clubs for Children and ‎Young-Adults
‎1.‎ Formation of executive committees in cities and provinces
‎2.‎ Running workshops for local facilitators ‎
‎3.‎ Formation of clubs and registering them ‎
‎4.‎ Members buying books with 50% discount
‎5.‎ Exchanging and reading books by the members
‎6.‎ Discussing books ‎
‎7.‎ Selecting the best books by the members ‎
‎8.‎ Writing a letter to favorite authors
‎9.‎ Making a short video on the subject of books ‎
‎10.‎ Doing creative group works ‎
‎11.‎ Documenting the activities of club
‎12.‎ Assessment and evaluation of club profiles at local level ‎
‎13.‎ Running celebrations for clubs at local level ‎
‎14.‎ Submitting the profile of the city and successful clubs to the ‎national secretariat
‎15.‎ Final evaluation
‎16.‎ Celebration of reading clubs and nomination of most successful ‎clubs, short films, letter to authors, and appreciation of the best ‎authors, translators and illustrators as voted by club members
 
Features
There are certain characteristics that has made the reading clubs ‎attractive to children and young adults: ‎
‎1.‎ It has a simple and familiar structure;‎
‎2.‎ It provides collective and participatory activities for children.‎
‎3.‎ It has a minimal and flexible structure, inviting the members to run ‎their own creative plans. ‎
‎4.‎ It provides new spaces for collective and active reading. ‎
‎5.‎ It enables children to read deeply and actively to talk and argue on ‎their special reading of the text. ‎
‎6.‎ Its simple and familiar structure can be reproduced in a variety of ‎social settings. ‎
‎7.‎ It provides great potentials for networking and linking reading ‎promotion activists and the transfer of experiences. ‎
‎8.‎ It demands for a variety of different organizations participation. ‎
‎9.‎ It can be used as a platform for thinking about, discussing, and ‎providing solutions to certain broader social problems. ‎
‎10.‎ Cities and villages are voluntary in their participation and they need ‎to provide some conditions for joining the cup. ‎
 
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