About

In 2012, when I was younger and fitter, I started a program called Reading Start in my hometown of Beirut, Lebanon. The aim of the program was to convince parents with children under six to read aloud and tell stories regularly to their kids. Armed with visions of parents and children cuddled together reading book after book and falling in love with print, I sought out funding and partnerships and affordable books to distribute. It was a labor of love, because, of course, what else would compel me to repeatedly hear “no, that can’t be done” and then keep coming back for more. Eventually, Reading Start became a reality. Friends and family pitched in and gave money, The Lebanese Board on Books for Young People took me under their wing and opened countless doors, Asala for Publishing and Distribution generously offered me quality books at cost, and the IBBY Sharjah Fund for Children Living in Poverty gave me a generous grant that allowed the project to reach, at closing, 5,875 families across Lebanon, providing them with a total of 11,750 board books to start off their children’s home libraries. By the time the project wrapped up, we had partnered with the Ministry of Social Affairs/ Higher Council for Childhood, Tahadi Clinic and a private pediatric clinic at Clemenceau Medical Center (CMC) to ensure that with every set of free books a parent received, they also heard trusted advice from a medical practitioner or social worker stressing the importance of reading aloud and storytelling in the early childhood years.

In January 2017, the project came to an end as I transitioned to another labor of love, the founding of the Arab world’s first publishing house dedicated to wordless picture books for children under six. However, the love of children’s books that had been growing incrementally by the day, and the feeling that there were parents out there that I still wanted to share that love with, kept Reading Start hovering around the periphery of my consciousness. I thought long and hard about what it could become, what might its next incarnation be, and I came to the conclusion that a space to explore and share my love of books with parents is just the thing. I will be using this space to talk about books and ways to make books come alive. Every post will also include easy to set up activities to expand on the books and themes mentioned. Occasionally, I will post special offers on books and craft kits that can be purchased by getting in touch. So please join me on this new Reading Start adventure, for the love of reading…