Date: 26-04-2023

30,000 Children in Romania and Poland Receive Story Books in Ukrainian

30,000 children in Romania and Poland receive story books in Ukrainian  

As part of ISSA’s Ukraine response, the International Step by Step Association partnered with Save the Children and Amazon in 2022 to distribute 195,000 copies of three children’s books in Ukrainian from ISSA’s Reading Corner Series for young children in Ukraine, Poland, and Romania. The books were developed and published by ISSA who also facilitated the donation. Meanwhile, Amazon printed and shipped the books, and handled the logistics. 

Reading to and with young children is central in supporting early learning and emergent literacy skills. Reading has multiple benefits for the brain and the body — including improved language skills, concentration and discipline, imagination and creativity, as well as supporting the bond between parents and children. Thus, not only do the books provide entertainment and escapism, but also serve an important educational purpose.  

Book distribution in Romania  

On September 21, 2022, ISSA Member, Centrul Step by Step in Romania received 15,000 books in Bucharest. Upon receiving this shipment, Centrul Step by Step worked quickly to deliver these materials to distribution points so that within nine days — by September 30 — 9,500 books had already left their warehouse.  

By November 2022, 12,000 books had been distributed. The biggest stock of books — approximately 6,000 — was distributed in Bucharest with the help of Bucharest’s Municipal Directorate for Social Assistance which is operating the largest distribution center for donations directly to refugees. The other 3,500 book where distributed in smaller stacks to centers mainly supported by Centrul Step by Step in Sectors two and three of Bucharest, in Maramureș and Tulcea counties at the Ukraine border, and in central Romania, in the counties of Brașov, Sibiu and Mureș.   

Book donation in Poland  

In Poland, ISSA Member Comenius Foundation for Child Development, Fundacja Rozwoju Dzieci have distributed 14,000 books to SPYNKA centres in Debica, Rzeszow, Gdynia, Gdansk, Lomianki, and Warsaw. They also reserved 1,000 copies of each book for promotional purposes, such as meetings with Ukrainian mothers in places where FRD plans for to open SPYNKA centres. 

The impact has been “huge” 

According to Sorin Dragomir, Development Director at Centrul Step by Step, “there is only one word to describe the impact — HUGE!” The books donated by Amazon and ISSA are the only ones of their kind for Ukrainian children in Romania and Poland. Receiving the books changed the atmosphere at refugee centers in both countries — bringing hope and joy to children, and boosting the morale of their parents and caregivers. 

From an educational perspective, the books have been of great help to Ukrainian mothers that are assisting teachers in kindergartens. Many had no prior experience and having a story book to read to the children in Ukrainian has helped them to feel more confident and engaging. Furthermore, the educators have been delighted by the high-quality print of the books. According to Sorin Dragomir, “being so colourful, the books are a joy for the children.” He also added that “in Bucharest, at the center receiving and registering refugees, receiving the story books was a time when you could see a smile on children’s faces.” 

Similarly, in Poland, an educator from, Lomianki reported that it has been “very difficult to get books in Ukrainian for children in Poland. We have been importing single copies from Ukraine and now we will have such colourful books for our group [to enjoy] and for all the children to take home.” In both contexts, the fact that each child now has their own book to take home has boosted the children’s morale immeasurably. 

The reach of the ISSA Network 

This intervention was made possible thanks to the combined efforts of Amazon, ISSA, ISSA Members on the ground, and their distribution partners who all came together to make the intervention more efficient and meaningful — in total distributing 30,000 books to the equivalent number of children.