A brilliant technology is now empowering Syrian children to release the traumas they’ve endured over the last three years. What is this tool that’s treated 50,000 kids and counting?
It’s a book—now, in fact, three—created by Books for Syria and distributed in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, and it’s the core of bibliotherapy, which uses reading to relieve psychological stress disorders. Studies have proven that reading and discussing stories kids can identify with “helps them express their feelings and structure their speech,” says project lead Shada Al-Sayed.
Besides helping them learn English—all stories are bilingual, English and Arabic—“the books become one of the only things they really possess for themselves after having left everything behind,” Al-Sayed explains. “They read it over and over again and start opening up and putting words to their feelings,”—especially with Me and Him, a story in which “he” is fear itself—a black, dreadful character that absorbs all light.
“The themes of the books are always related to hope, optimism, fear, and so on, and there is much discussion after the reading sessions, which allows children to externalize their feelings and talk openly about their fears,” she adds. Like all the project’s books, it was developed by Syrian writers and illustrators specifically for a young Syrian readership.
Thankfully, the act of storytelling is innately empowering—as girls in Jordan’s Zaatari Refugee camp discovered. After listening to The Tent Flew Away, with illustrations projected on a white wall, they began eagerly creating new plot twists and endings to the story.
A fourth book, on first aid for children, is planned, pending funding. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of young readers are finding their own power to erase fear from their stories and create a new beginning.
For more information – www.booksforsyria.com