Queen Rania of Jordan Opens the International Reading Association’s 55th Annual Convention in Chicago

photo of the Arie Crown Theater Marquee: Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan

I'm Off to Hear the Queen!




I had the amazing opportunity to listen to Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan at the opening general session of the International Reading Association’s (I.R.A.) 55th annual convention in Chicago on April 26, 2010. Before going into the session, I did not know much about Queen Rania or her goals. I actually wondered why she was presenting at the convention. Being the TWRCr that I am, I did a little Internet research on her before attending this session. One surprising thing I found out was that Queen Rania of Jordan was on Twitter! (Yes, I began following her.) :)

Before speaking at I.R.A., Queen Rania tweeted these four things:

  1. April 26, 2010 at 9:20 a.m.

  2. April 26, 2010 at 9:23 a.m.

  3. April 26, 2010 at 9:27 a.m.

  4. April 26, 2010 at 9:29 a.m.


    This was the opening general session meaning that it is the only session open at that time. The exhibits and all other sessions officially open after this one. In previous years, this session began with children carrying in flags of many nations. I remember being moved to tears the first time I saw it. For some reason, I.R.A. did not have the parade of flags this year, nor do I think they had it last year. :( I really enjoy that parade. My guess is that it has been eliminated to give more time to the keynote speaker, which makes sense.

    During the opening session (and before the keynote speaker) there are also performances put on by local talent. This year’s performances were from the Chicago’s World Renowned Seven Star Lion Dance Group and the Franklin Fine Arts Center Chorus from Chicago Public Schools.

    After these delightful performances, Patricia Edwards, the incoming president of I.R.A. (and very energetic Michigander) introduced the outgoing president of I.R.A., Kathryn Au, and person in charge of the year’s theme, “Reading in Many Languages.”

    Somewhere in the opening session, many awards are announced and people who are involved with local, state, and provincial councils are recognized by being asked to stand in the audience. I remember being moved by this at the first I.R.A. convention I attended. For the past few years, I have been one of the people being asked to stand and I do so proudly. (A few weeks ago, I was installed as the president of the Orange County Reading Association.) The evening before this session, our council received the Honors Council Award at the Council Award Ceremony for our 28th consecutive year!! Many people say this award ceremony is I.R.A.’s equivalent of the “Academy Awards.”

    Back to Kathy Au’s speech…. She spoke about four lessons for creating a staircase curriculum in a standards based change process. Her four lessons included:

    1. Build a school wide professional learning community.

    2. Construct a staircase curriculum.

    3. Prepare and empower teacher leaders.

    4. Reach for the stars.


    Then, Kathy introduced Sally Zambada (sp?) who welcomed us to the convention in Tagalog, followed by an English translation. I am so glad I captured this on video. I really enjoyed learning the meaning of Mabuhay and her overall message.



    Later, the Chief Education Officer of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Eason-Watkins, welcomed us to Chicago by saying (and I quote), “Please enjoy our great shitty!” After the laughter died down, she explained that “shopping” was the next thing she was going to talk about since Chicago is known for its shopping. She covered it so well and so did Kathryn Au. It was really an enjoyable moment.

    Next, Patrick Gaston, the president of the Verizon Foundation, awarded a one million dollar grant to ReadWriteThink.org and Thinkfinity.org. (I will write a post about this amazing website in the future.)

    photo of a million dollar check

    Million Dollar Check from the Verizon Foundation to Thinkfinity - ReadWriteThink




    After a long-standing ovation for the Verizon Foundation, Kathryn Au began introducing the Queen. I videotaped most of the introduction and all of Queen Rania’s presentation with my digital camera in two parts. I compressed and uploaded them to the TWRCtank’s Facebook page. I hope they load quickly for you and that you have time to watch. They are not the best quality and are jumpy in places (because I was taking notes), but I think you will really enjoy her speech (part 1) and her question and answer session with Kathryn Au (part 2). Around the 7:18 mark of part 1, Queen Rania shares a very touching story about “Luggage for Life.” I think you will really enjoy it. I know I did! Part two talks a lot about Queen Rania’s work with UNICEF and the fact that 72 million children around the world are not in schools, but pray they were. This leads into the 1 Goal campaign that I discuss later in this post.

    If you would rather read about Queen Rania’s keynote speech instead, here are two write-ups I found on the Internet. The first one focuses more on Queen Rania’s goals than her speech. The second one is from a website all about Jordan and it focuses more on her speech–including one of my favorite parts of the speech, “Luggage for Life.”

    1. Article from Reading Today about Queen Rania of Abdul’s speech at the International Reading Association convention.

    2. Article about Queen Rania Abdul of Jordan opening the International Reading Association Convention.


    Here are my amateur videos:





    I want to point out that before the opening general session began, some women in line next to me had purchased an autographed copy of a children’s book written by Queen Rania–published just that morning! The book is titled, Sandwich Swap. We read it while we waited in line. It is beautifully illustrated and based on a true story that happened to Queen Rania when she was five years old. You can watch a 6 1/2 minute ABC News video clip of Queen Rania Abdul telling the story behind the Sandwich Swap (and read an excerpt of the book) here. The book has a great multicultural message.

    If you are interested in learning more about Queen Rania and The Sandwich Swap, you might enjoy watching her recent appearances on The View and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

    Queen Rania of Jordan on The View




    Queen Rania of Jordan on The Oprah Winfrey Show (Part 1)



    Queen Rania of Jordan on The Oprah Winfrey Show (Part 2)





    By the way, here is Queen Rania’s humorous tweet before she appeared on The Oprah Show.

    Here is more about 1 Goal: Education for All (including a video). I joined 1 Goal and added my name to the team, became a fan of 1 Goal on Facebook and I follow 1 Goal on Twitter, too. I hope the demonstration at the World Cup is so powerful that politicians will take action and children will no longer have to pray for an education.



    Queen Rania is also in the video below, along with several people you will recognize. It is sad, eyeopening, and very inspirational.

    End Poverty: Be the Generation




    Finally, if you haven’t learned enough, you can find Queen Rania of Jordan on Wikipedia. In addition, Queen Rania of Jordan is on Facebook and you can find Queen Rania of Jordan’s YouTube Channel here.

    I hope this post has inspired you. I know putting it all together inspired me.

    Note: I love comments and feedback. If you do not have time to comment, could you at least take a second to click on the stars below to rate this post on a scale of 1 to 10? Thanks a bunch! In addition, if you take the time to read the comments, I encourage you to click on the “Like” button located next to comments you like, so that the “Sort by” drop-down menu will be useful. Thanks again and happy TWRCing! :)

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    • http://areaderscommunity.blogspot.com M Dahms

      Wow! This sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing all this information – I just wish I had time to take it all in now! I guess I'll have to come back later today to delve into it further :)

    • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

      It really was amazing and I learned much more while researching to write this post. I'm so glad you liked it enough to want to come back!!! :D

      P.S. For anyone reading this comment, you should click on “M Dahms” above. It links to her blog, “A Reader's Community.” I think you'll be be glad you did!