Newsletter No 2 06 October 2005
 
Readership & Circulation:
Attracting Young Readers

In Jordan, a former teacher has launched a newspaper for children between the ages of six and twelve. The 16-page monthly aims at stimulating the reading habits of children and make them part of something that is their own.

APN spoke to the editor-in-chief and publisher Nasreen al Qawasmy.

“Children today do not read much. Farashat wants to stimulate their reading habits by dealing with subjects they feel concerned about. We also want to contribute to their education by informing them of what is going on in Jordan and in the Arab world. We want to raise a generation of readers conscious of the problems of childhood in their region, and help them express their needs and their dreams,” says Al Qawasmy.

Al Qawasmy was a teacher for eight years in a primary school before launching Farashat in June this year. “I realized there is not much reading material available for children, and the material that exists is very expensive. Also, most of the material for children is produced without their participation. I wanted to do something both affordable and useful, that would appeal to children. I chose to launch a newspaper because it gives children a sense of independence: ‘Dad reads his newspaper, and I read mine’.”

Farashat prints 5,000 copies and is published in Arabic, with some sections in English. These include “My Rights”, where a lawyer tells children about their rights and answer their questions. Other sections in the paper deal with environmental issues, family relations (aimed both at children and their parents), health issues, and news from the Arab world (with an emphasis on Palestine and Iraq).

To reinforce the feeling of being part of something special, children are encouraged to contribute to the newspaper with their own material. “The newspaper has a section to which children can send their own stories. We also organize workshops in schools. The students choose a subject, and then we write stories around it together. Our goal is to allow children to write the stories they want to read, while learning about journalism.”

Creating a newspaper only for children was not easy. “I do not know why, but most of the media and different organizations that I contacted were not interested in collaborating with us. For the time being we are renting the printing presses of another newspaper here in Jordan, Addustour, and we get technical support from a centre specialized in design issues. Farashat is currently being distributed through the newspaper stands of Addustour as well as directly in the schools. In the future, I hope we can reach an agreement with Addustour in terms of printing and editorial cooperation.”

Revenue comes from both advertising and sales. “Our main advertisers are schools and toy makers as well as children’s clothing brands. For the moment we are not making any profit, but we hope to do so in a few months. As we are not yet very well-known, we offer very interesting rates to advertisers in order to attract them,” says Al Qawasmy. “If everything goes well, we should be turning into a weekly in the coming months.”

The first issue of Farashat was published in June 2005, although the official presentation took place on 8 September. The paper costs 0.25 Jordanian dinars (0.35 US$). The web address is: www.farashat-kids.com.