Exploring values while learning
to read.

Literacy for Peace and Justice has over 100 children’s books at different levels of difficulty addressing values that promote understanding and respect and how to act to create peaceful, just communities.

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Frederick Douglass
Literacy for Peace and Justice

We convey technical knowledge and skills critical for strong literacy development to family and community members, including teachers and librarians, globally in ways that develop peace at home and in society. We offer sequences and adaptations that support stages of human development and varied abilities among people.

  • Offers resources: books, tips, and lesson plans for parents and teachers
  • Models how to read aloud to engage the listener’s mind and imagination for parents and teachers
  • Models how to teach literacy through active, experiential approaches
  • Develops stories that illustrate instructional moments on how people, of any age, act in a peaceful, just society
1 in 5 people around the world are illiterate.

Many people counted as literate are functionally illiterate — they have to work so hard to decipher the words they cannot grasp the meaning.

Illiteracy and functional illiteracy have serious consequences, such as

  • Impoverished imagination and diminished human potential
  • Cut off from information and connection to others
  • Lower lifetime earnings, poverty, and chronic health challenges
  • 83% of children who cannot read by the 3rd grade drop out of schoo
Literacy, on the other hand
  • Promotes Social-Emotional Development. Books widen our world view.  Books are one of the most vital ways that children can learn about others by having the chance to infer other people’s feelings in situations by their actions and reactions.
  • Inspires Interpersonal Understanding. Young people develop critical thinking skills as they look for evidence to justify their statements. Skills such as active listening, a sense of responsibility, patience, empathy, and more can be acquired through books.
  • Engages Life-Long Learning. Books are an effective way to present and teach how to identify a problem, think through it, and apply a solution to overcome the problem. This necessary life long skill of critical thinking is quintessential for children at any age, but especially if started at an early age.

We collaborate with Friends from the Quaker Religious Education Committee and Yearly Meetings globally. Join us!

Maida (Mary) McKenna has worked in teacher education for 30 years. In 2004, she felt called to share active approaches to teaching literacy in Africa. Under the care of Storrs (CT) Friends Meeting, she joined a movement to educate diverse teacher candidates in New York City. This work led to the challenge of developing literacy curriculum materials for Nepali teachers, which evolved into Literacy for Peace and Justice in Nepal, Lebanon, and on-line. Two Legacy Grants from New England Yearly Meeting helped develop books for teaching literacy that model how people resolve problems while respecting humanity and all creation.
 In 2020, Maida’s ministry came under the care of Friends Peace Teams growing into her original calling as she brings peace literacy to Nepal, Indonesia, Rwanda, and around the world.  

Turtle MacDermott came of age in the social activism of the mid-1960’s, which led her to Quaker work camps and a life-long engagement with Friends, largely in New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) and Southern Application Yearly Meeting and Association (SAYMA). The values she has developed there, along with the critical thinking skills whose formation began in elementary and high school, have informed her life experience. This experience has included several years in Europe, raising and home-schooling her own children, and more recently engaging with Native American cultures and issues. The gifts she offers in writing, editing, and organizing language and learning bring a focus to clear communication, deeper consideration, and engagement from a variety of cultural perspectives.

Nadine Hoover founded Friends Peace Teams’ Asia West Pacific Initiative, Nadine transitioned the Power of Goodness story collection from Friends International Library in 2013. A former preschool teacher, Nadine received a doctoral degree in Educational Foundations and Policy Studies from Florida State University and served as lead consultant to open the Directorate of Early Childhood Education in Indonesia. Understanding nonviolence, trauma recovery, and developmental learning as three pillars of recovery from war or violence, Nadine has supported Peace Place in Indonesia, with preschool and parenting programs, a community peace library and reading room, and community training center.

Where We Work

We work in Nepal, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Rwanda, and are open to others globally.

We teach reading in English, but could move to other phonetic languages, such as Spanish. We develop our own books, because many of the leveled reading books have cultural, ethical, and moral problems. Literacy for Peace and Justice uses materials that model behaviors needed for a peaceful, just society. We use a systematic, experiential, engaging approach to how to read that is new to many parents and teachers around the world. We solicit stories from among the communities where we are working, and develop new materials slowly over time.

Teaching Literacy

We engage children in reading to create peaceful, just societies by empowering parents and teachers with experiential resources.

We train teachers interactive approaches to literacy, in-person and online, to promote reflection replacing rote drills

We offer free books and lesson plans accessible to homes and classrooms around the world

encouraging reading aloud with children in the home

We help people develop capabilities so they do not revert to violence and can build a healthy community


Stages of Reading

Intern Opportunities

Internships are available for work with projects in Nepal, Rwanda, Indonesia, and the Philippines. 

Via websites The African StoryBook Project and StoryWeaver; and by making creative uses of simple technologies such as Rasberri Pi, we make literacy materials accessible in English and local languages. The goal is to reach into inner cities and isolated rural areas, places that consistently experience a chronic lack of educational resources, made more critical in post-Covid conditions.  

Interns will co-lead biweekly virtual in-service programs for teachers, parents, and community members. These programs will focus on keeping learning alive for students who are isolated from any form of regular schooling. Topics will vary, and may include sessions on how to read with young children; or, for older students, how to facilitate language use, problem-solving, critical thinking, and the development of social emotional skills for understanding one’s self and others. Curriculum development to support the above will also be under development.

For the interns, experienced mentors will be available to support the development of age appropriate workshop content and interactive delivery methods for zoom etc. Local partners will co-lead each session.

For more information on the literacy initiatives. please contact Maida (Mary) McKenna. Literacy for Peace and Justice is attempting to respond to the disastrous interruption of learning for the children who most need educational support.