OMAN: A Reading Dilemma

OMAN: A Reading Dilemma


Being a bookworm myself, reading has been an issue of interest for me for ages. I believe reading is what made me the person I am today and surely will keep adding more to my personality as I grow older.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R.R. Martin

Reading has been a crucial part of my life. As a speech and language therapist, I have used story books with my patients to work on speech, language and social skills. I have used them to break the ice and make the children at ease. I have also used story books while working on imaginative play, and more. Reading is essential for my work with children at my private business, and it is invaluable in my voluntary work with children in different settings. My son reads a great deal each day, and I read to my daughters almost daily as well. It is quite an integral part of my daily life, and that of my children as well.

This is all normal and would normally be nothing worthy of noting. However, in the region of the Middle East, it is an issue that has been of alarm. A study done by Arab Thought Foundation in 2012 revealed that Arabs read only an average of 6 minutes a year!

I am not exactly sure of the reasons that lead to such a lack of reading in our culture. In my personal experience, I found that many Omani families do not read to their children. Some do not even know why reading aloud to children is important, and very few are willing to spend the money to buy children’s story books. I remember a few parents asking me to provide literacy work (counting, alphabets, etc.) for their children instead of story books because the former will help with school while the latter is a waste of time and money. The number of women I met personally during my life in Oman who read for leisure are so few I can name them. Reading is almost completely unheard of.

I think this is an important subject to target in the next few years. There are some wonderful initiatives that focus on encouraging reading among children, like the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Reading Initiative, which encourages students across the Arab world to read more. Academics have begun researching this topic as well, examining the lack of reading culture and the benefits that would be gained in developing such culture.

What do you think about this reading dilemma? Is reading to children a part of your culture?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Ibtisam Alwardi from Oman. 

Photo courtesy of Rosmarie Voegtli / Flickr.

Ibtisam Alwardi

Ibtisam (at Ibtisam's musings) is an Omani Mom of three, living in the capital city of Oman ,Muscat. After working for ten years as a speech and language therapist in a public hospital, she finally had the courage to resign and start her own business. She had a dream of owning a place where she can integrate fun, play and 'books', thus the iPlay Smart centre (@iplaysmart) was born. Currently she is focusing on raising awareness through social media about parenting, childhood, language acquisition. She started raising awareness on (the importance of reading) and (sexual harassment) targeting school-aged children. Ibtisam enjoys writing, both in Arabic and English, reading and working closely with children. She plans to write children books (in Arabic) one day. Contact Ibtisam at ibtisamblogging(at)

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As my youngest has started to work on learning to read and write in kindergarten, and my oldest lays on the couch for hours lost in a book, I’ve been reflecting about books and reading.  A book is so much more than just paper and ink and the binding that holds it together.  Books can be entertaining, but most importantly, they teach us new things and help us broaden our understanding of the world we live in.  It turns out reading books also does so much more, especially for our children.   (more…)

Eva Fannon (USA)

Eva Fannon is a working mom who lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her hubby and two girls. She was born and raised on the east coast and followed her husband out west when he got a job offer that he couldn't refuse. Eva has always been a planner, so it took her a while to accept that no matter how much you plan and prepare, being a mom means a new and different state of "normal". Despite the craziness on most weekday mornings (getting a family of four out the door in time for work and school is no easy task!), she wouldn't trade being a mother for anything in the world. She and her husband are working on introducing the girls to the things they love - travel, the great outdoors, and enjoying time with family and friends. Eva can be found on Twitter @evafannon.

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WORLD VOICE: Passports with Purpose bringing #BooksforKenya

WORLD VOICE: Passports with Purpose bringing #BooksforKenya

As a travel blogger, I am always looking for new ways to give back and just last week at a conference I learned about a fabulous organization called Passports with Purpose. Passports with Purpose was founded in 2008 by four travel writers, Debbie DubrowPam MandelBeth Whitman and Michelle Duffy as a way to build community among travel bloggers and to give back to places travelers visit. Each year, Passports with Purpose holds an annual fundraiser during a two-week period in November and December for a new charity.

Past Passports with Purpose fundraisers have benefited such fabulous NGOs and initiatives as Heifer International; the Passports School with American Assistance for Cambodia; a village in Tamil Nadu, India for 25 Dalit families with Land for Tillers’ Freedom; two libraries in Zambia with Room to Read; five wells in Haiti with; two schools and two adult literacy programs in Mali with buildOn; and, in 2014, five communities in Honduras with Sustainable Harvest.

This year, Passports with Purpose is working to bring digital reading to five libraries in Kenya with Worldreader, a US, European and African-based nonprofit organization that provides e-books, reading and literacy in the developing world. Their mission is to unlock the potential of millions of people through the use of digital books in places where access to reading materials is very limited.

It is a fact that literacy is transformative:  it increases earning potential, decreases inequality, improves health outcomes and breaks the cycle of poverty (UNESCO). Yet there are 740 million illiterate people in this world and 250 million children of primary school age who lack basic reading and writing skills (UNESCO). Books are necessary for the development of these skills, and still 50% of schools in Africa have few or no books at all (SACMEQ II). Worldreader is on a mission to bring digital books to every child and her family, so that they can improve their lives


A Book is a Dream copy

The goal:

The funds raised in 2015 from Passports with Purpose will bring digital reading to five libraries in western Kenya. The e-readers will provide an estimated 6,250 children, teachers and parents with access to more than 50,000 books. Each library will get 50 Kindle e-readers, containing both English and Swahili fiction and non-fiction for all ages, as well as Kenyan textbooks. The Worldreader program also includes comprehensive training for the librarians, as well as a field-tested and proven solar solution that will keep the e-readers charged if electricity is scarce.

When it is:

From Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST to Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST each $10 you donate gives you a chance to enter to win from their catalogue of prizes ranging from a resort vacation to a camera to a stylish new suitcase.

How it works:

First you browse the prize catalogue and decide what you would like to win, then you make a donation. After you make a donation, you are able to bid on prizes. For each $10 you donate, you get one chance to win a prize. So if you give $100, you can bid 10 times on 1 prize or 1 time on 10 different prizes or however you want to break it up.

All profits from the online auction and all donations will go to Worldreader. To donate and participate in the auction, please click here.

To learn more about Passports with Purpose, please visit their website here or on social media here FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. Hashtag #PwP and also #BooksforKenya. 
In addition, Passports with Purpose is hosting two Twitter chats: Jen Leo and Katie Dillon are running a #KidsNTrips #PwP Twitter Chat at 12:30 EST on Tuesday 11/10 and Jyl Pattee and the Mom it Forward team are running one on 11/17 at 9 EST.
Do you believe in the power of literature? 
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Nicole Melancon of Third Eye Mom

Nicole Melancon (USA)

Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path. A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends. Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!). Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!

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SOCIAL GOOD: See The Future Unfold With Save The Children

SOCIAL GOOD: See The Future Unfold With Save The Children

imageFrom the time I knew that I was pregnant, I was doing things to nurture my child’s development: I sang to him, placed speakers on my belly so he could hear classical music, narrated my day and what the world looked like “on the outside,”

My son’s first read-aloud started the day he arrived home from the hospital- a beautiful book entitled The Day You Were Born, and 8 years later, it is still one of his favorite read aloud stories.

He and I played games together, built blocks, and crafted sand castles. When he could finally walk, we zoomed around the house like explorers visiting outer-space.

I did all the things that my uber-aware-parenting -set were advised to do. Read, Talk, Sing, Play. Again and again, each day: Read, Talk, Sing, Play. And then it was time to send him off to school, where he would be doing more of the same to support his rapidly developing mind.

I well recall that feeling when I first sent my son into the preschool classroom environment. It was such an exciting time, and one also filled with questions: Will he feel secure? Will the teachers look after him as I would? Will he settle in and make friends? Will he rest when he is supposed to?


Around the globe, many parents have just had this “first time into school experience.” This time- the first time in school- is seen as the formal beginning of our child’s education, where they will lay the foundation for their learning and schooling for the years to come. What studies have shown us, however, is that the foundation is laid well before our children walk through the classroom doors; the foundation begins as soon as our children are brought into the world.

Research shows us that a child’s brain is 90% developed BEFORE they are 5 years old. That is an incredibly high percentage, which shows us that the things we do at home before our children enter school can determine their early success.

My son was lucky, he had a well-informed (teacher) mom who knew the importance of a language rich home. Many children do not have this advantage. As a result, many children enter school at a deficit, a deficit which, as outlined by Save the Children can have a long-term impact on a child’s life.

As stated by Save the Children:

…if children do not have caring individuals reading, talking and playing with them regularly; access to quality preschool that enhances these skills; and social and emotional development to help them understand how to interact and play with others, they will be behind before they even start. In fact, children living in poverty in the United States and around the world, are not getting the support they need during these early stages of development.


As a mother, teacher, and citizen of the world, these numbers are frightening and unacceptable. They are also heartbreaking. They don’t need to be the case, and Save the Children is on a mission to change this through their See the Future Unfold campaign.

There are many things that can be done to help close this deficit, beginning with simple home intervention plans such as Read, Talk, Sing, Play. This initiative strives to partner with parents, and educate them about the importance of a language rich home where children have the benefits of these simple, but important, developmental opportunities.

But in order for a child to be read to, a family must have access to books. And this is where the World Moms’ Blog community can step in. Together, we can support Save the Children’s initiatives today by making a small donation to their cause. Money raised will help provide books to children, as well as support the efforts for early intervention in poverty-stricken areas.

At this moment, WMB has 4,644 followers on our Facebook page. Imagine if each of us gave just $3 towards buying books for children. That would be enough to provide 4, 644 children with their first book. Can you image how precious that would be for a mother who cannot provide for her child? I know my Son’s first book- The Day you Were Born, means the world to us.

verticle copyI’m donating as soon as I finish this post. Will you join me?


To participate, and to see how a donation can change a child’s furture, visit the Save the Children website.




What is your favorite children’s book that you read with your own child?

This is an original post written by Erin Threlfall for World Moms Blog.


Erin M. Threlfall

Originally from the US, Erin has credited her intense wanderlust and desire to live around the globe to her nomadic childhood. Every two to three years, her father’s work with a large international company provided the opportunity to know a different part of the US (VA, OH, PA, GA, SC, NY) and eventually Europe (Germany and Italy) and Asia (Thailand and Japan). Though her parents and siblings finally settled down in the heartland of America, Erin kept the suitcases in action and has called Ghana, South Korea, Togo, Bali, and now New York home. Single Mom to a fabulous seven-year-old citizen of the world, she is an educator and theatre artist who is fascinated with world cultures and artistic practices. Her big dream is to some day open a school focused on well-being and inquiry based learning to meet the needs of all her learners. In the meantime, Erin and her Little Man Edem, plan to keep investigating theatre and influencing education, one continent at a time. You can read some of her ramblings and perhaps find the common thread by checking our her personal blog, telling all about This Life

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WORLD VOICE: Summer Reading with Meaning

WORLD VOICE: Summer Reading with Meaning


WMB Alison's Book Stack 500

I am an avid reader, especially during the summer months, reading outside each evening with my daughters under the stars on our back porch. I go back and forth between fiction and non-fiction, between heart-wrenching and laugh out loud funny, and between popular bestsellers and hidden gems. So, I thought I would share my meaningful reads list for this summer. These are most often the hidden gems that aren’t featured on lists of number one hits but are just as good, if not better, than those popular reads.

I won’t go into detail about plots and story-lines, but will say that each of these books was a page turner that left me pondering what I had read for weeks after.

If I had to pick a favourite, I would decline…it would be too difficult. But, if I had to pick one that resonated the most with me, it would be “If Nuns Ruled the World”.

Being a Catholic myself, I have always felt that nuns were never given the credit they deserved for the work they were doing throughout the world. We all know of Mother Theresa and her work with the sick, lonely and poor, but not much more is known of nuns working in this day and age. We often hear stories of the Pope and those of the Vatican, but what about those hard-working nuns who are on the ground changing lives every single day in the most adverse of conditions???

This book features the incredible stories of nuns who have taken chances, gone against protocol, helped those that others had given up on, and did it all under the watchful eye of many who disapproved of their work. These nuns are courageous, spunky, lively, funny and most of all, selfless and good-hearted.

I was so inspired by their stories that I wrote to a few of them to let them know….and they wrote me back!

I can honestly say that if the nuns who were featured in this book, really did rule the world, it would be a world of peace, justice, love, acceptance and empathy.

When my three young daughters saw me compiling this list, they too wanted to be involved. They hurried to find their favourite meaningful reads and have compiled them here as well:

Alison's Book Stack 2 500


Quynn, who is 8, loves the book “Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors” and has wanted to become a doctor ever since.

Camryn, who is 10, loves the “Who is/was…” series. She has read about Jane Goodall, Hellen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman and Amelia Earhart, to name just a few.  Wanting to be a pilot, she especially loves all books about Amelia Earhart.

Ryleigh, who is 11 loves to read about Anne Frank and anything related to the Holocaust. She read “Number the Stars” in two days and has not stopped talking about it. It is so hard for her to wrap her young mind around the stories of girls her age who survived such atrocities in our history.

So, if you are looking for some great books to read this summer, we hope that you will enjoy some of our recommendations. And, if you have suggestions for us, we would love to hear those as well!

What is on your summer reading list?

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Alison Fraser who is founder of the non-profit Mom2MomAfrica.

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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