Rana Dajani, a molecular biologist at Jordan’s Hashemite University, returned home from a Fulbright fellowship in the United States struck by the lack of readers and public libraries in her home country.

So, on a Saturday morning in February 2006, the mother of four carried a bag of children’s books across the road to her local mosque in Amman, Jordan. She donned a traditional folklore dress and a silly hat, and spent an hour reading stories to two dozen children gathered at her feet.

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