Welcome to Maktabat Al-Fanoos!
Maktabat al-Fanoos (Lantern Library) is an Arabic-language book-gifting program that serves Arab children ages 3-8 and their families in Israel. It strives to stimulate a life-long love of books and discussion of universal values at home and in the class. Maktabat al-Fanoos operates in 100 percent of Arabic language public preschools and elementary schools, distributing high-quality books via classrooms that each child takes home to keep, enabling families to create a home library of children’s books. The program encourages shared reading and meaningful conversations on the issues and emotions raised by the stories in both the classroom and at home.
Maktabat al-Fanoos empowers teachers and parents to help children develop their learning and mother-tongue language skills, to enhance their emotional awareness and to celebrate the richness of Arab culture. Children ages 3-5 in preschool receive eight books a year; children in first and second grades receive four books a year so that Arab children will have a personal home library of 32 Maktabat al-Fanoos books by the time they enter third grade.
The program was created by the Israeli Ministry of Education in partnership with two foundations:
- Harold Grinspoon Foundation, founders of Sifriyat Pijama book program for Hebrew speaking children in Israel, and of the award winning North American program PJ Library™
- Price Pilanthropies, founder of Bidayat (Beginnings) – Early Childhood Centers and programs in Arab communities.
How the program works
During the school year, participating children ages 3-8 are introduced to high-quality picture books in a special Maktabat al-Fanoos edition. The books are delivered to the classroom over the course of the year: approximately once a month in preschool, and once every two months in first and second grade. Each package includes a copy of a book for each child and two copies for the class library. Teachers are provided by email with suggestions for class activities. Each book is introduced by the teacher through shared reading, discussion and other activities intended to enhance children’s understanding and enjoyment of the books. Then each child receives his/her own copy to take home and keep, a gift to share with the family.
We consider the teacher a family educator whose role is pivotal to encouraging reading in the home. She can do this by requesting that children do a project around the book with parents at home and bring the results to the classroom, and/or she can ask children if they have read the book with their family and encourage them to do so frequently.
Each book contains a parent guide with suggestions of activities and discussions for parents to enjoy with their children.
All Arabic-language state kindergartens, pre-kindergartens, first and second grade classes throughout Israel participate in the program for free. By the time a child reaches third grade, he/she will have a personal home library of 32 Maktabat al-Fanoos books.
We encourage teachers and parents to share their experiences with children and our books on our Facebook page.
How we choose the books
Our book selection committees includes representatives of the Ministry of Education as well as other experts in education, child development and children’s literature. The committees (separate ones for preschool and for elementary school) meet regularly and reviews hundreds of books. We are in constant contact with publishers, children’s librarians, teachers and authors who recommend books for us to consider. We put an emphasis on books with a strong story line that will engage young children while at the same time stimulating discussion on values and folk culture as seen from a child’s point of view. Books include both translated works and original Arabic texts. For more information on the books, see the book section of this website.