UNICEF organizes a summer book festival in Bam
The sound of music filled the air as dozens of children, parents and teachers gathered under the straw shades of Enghelaab-e Eslaami school yard to take part in a summer book festival. The area was decorated with different colored balloons, drawings and photographs. Books – dangling from strings - marked the various sections that were on offer at the event.
On the left, there were signs that said, “Handy crafts”, “Drawing”, “Games” and “Face Painting” and on the right, were the “Mobile Libraries” and “Healthy Food” sections. A music club made up of boys and girls from different primary schools in Bam were in the centre playing instruments such as bells, the flute and recorder.
“We wanted to organize a day of fun and festivity which was by, for and with children”, said Andrea Berther, UNICEF Education Officer in Bam. “The idea is to promote reading amongst children and highlight the role of the mobile libraries.”
UNICEF has provided two mobile libraries which visit around 80 schools in Bam and surrounding villages. Each is equipped with three thousand books, on subjects ranging from Persian folklore to science and culture. There are four librarians in total, all of them trained and supported by UNICEF.
In the “Handy Crafts” section, children, acting as peer to peer educators, sit in a big circle with a group of others the same age. On colored paper, they draw scenes from their favorite story books, all of which will be glued to the outside of the two mobile libraries. This time the librarians are the students themselves.
“I like books that teach me about my rights,” says 11 year old Aliyeh Hemmati, one of the peer educators who says she wants to be a cardiologist when she grows up.
A few feet away, in the ‘Games’ section, young members of the Bam Hygiene and Child-Friendly Schools’ Committees have the children jumping up and running around, before they race to have their faces painted – their hands filled with prizes such as books, crayons and story tapes.
A “Movie” section is also set up in the school hallway where, having played a video showing cartoons on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, Children are asked to write or draw about ‘A Loving Family’ and ‘Children’s Right to Expression’.
Back in the yard, the ‘Healthy Food’ station serves everyone fruit juice and cake as well as “Kookoo” sandwiches (made with mashed potatoes and eggs) and “Doogh” (the traditional yogurt drink).
Also on the menu – the rules of the mobile libraries.
Student librarian, Mahboobeh Darijani, gives out the necessary instructions to a group of children who are crowded round a large piece of cardboard paper that says, ‘My Mobile Library Rules!’
“I want to become a teacher. I’m quite good with children!” says 11 year old Mahboobeh, after acting out the “Grandmother” from the book “Little Red Riding Hood”.
Later, all the children gather to have the mobile libraries decorated with their drawings as well as a big “60 UNICEF” sign. They wave to the camera that captures their smiles before the day’s end.