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International Reading Association’s 55th Annual Convention
By Donna McCormick

 Chicago, April 25th-28th, 2010

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan was the keynote speaker at the Opening General Session of the International Reading Association’s 55th Annual Convention in Chicago. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the American University of Cairo in 1991. Later, she pursued a career in banking in Jordan and followed this with a brief career in the field of information technology.

Queen Rania was born in 1970 and is the mother of four children whom she calls “ my little ambassadors of hope.” She has dedicated her newly published picture book, “The Sandwich Swap” (co-authored with Kelly DiPucchio), to them. The story is based on her own childhood experience. She tells how two girls, after days of declaring that one another’s sandwiches (one a peanut butter and jelly and the other a hummus on pita sandwich), looked disgusting and unappealing. The argument escalates to the point where their friendship is broken and every child in school begins to choose sides and hurl rude insults at each other. The girls feel ashamed at the results of their argument and in the end they agree to taste each other’s sandwich and find them to be quite tasty. They decide to go to the principal’s office and suggest a special school-wide event intended to demonstrate that you should not pass judgment on something you have never tried. As Queen Rania stated, “ It is best to develop an open mind, as deficit of knowledge often leads to an excess of emotion”.

Queen Rania’s story ties in well with her overarching message about the importance of fostering cross-cultural literacy. She serves as the Eminent Advocate for Children for UNICEF . She is also the global chair for the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, working for broader access to schools and higher quality education for all children, especially for girls.

Queen Rania uses the latest in social media, including her own website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to reach out to literacy and education advocates around the world. Her new initiative, timed to correspond to the World Cup in South Africa this year, is being accomplished through an online petition drive designed to make political leaders understand that the lack of universal literacy and education is a humanitarian crisis for the 75 million children who still are out of school. “ In Sudan,” she said, “a young girl is more likely to die giving birth than to have a primary education.”

Since the IRA Convention in Chicago, Queen Rania has received the James C. Morgan 2010 Global Humanitarian Award. She is being recognized for her “leadership, efforts in protecting human rights around the world, and relentless campaigning for broader access to schools and higher quality education for children.” Her book would be a valuable addition to any school library:

AL ABDULLAH, Rania, with Kelly DiPucchio. The Sandwich Swap. Illus. by Tricia Tusa.
Hyperion/Disney NY. Apr. 2010.



Every day all over the world, children are laughing and crying, playing and learning, eating and sleeping. They may not look the same. They may not speak the same language. Their lives may be quite different. But inside, they are just like you.

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox

The British Columbia Literacy Council of the International Reading Association will be publishing a new literacy project online this fall. The purpose of this project is to help BC teachers of primary and intermediate grade students meet the following objectives:

  • to help cultivate cultural awareness and understanding in BC through the use of children’s picture books
  • to help children learn to value cultural similarities and differences through the use of children’s picture books
  • to help both teachers and students develop a more in-depth background knowledge of the different cultures within BC
  • to improve communication between the home and school so all parents and students in our province will feel welcomed, respected, important and needed

This project is intended to be an ongoing project, and as such, will be published online through our new website. In this way, the information provided can be monitored and periodically updated and resources added on a regular basis. Teachers will be invited to contribute to the project, and accepted contributions will be posted on our website. Be sure to check on a regular basis to find out more details about the project and anticipated date of publication. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments they may be directed to Donna McCormick, chair of the Provincial Literacy Project.

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