The idea of the Arab Children Literature and Reading Regional Programme emerged from the ten-year programme funded by Sida for the development of Children’s literature in Palestine starting in 1992-2002.  The programme was funded through Diakonia, a church-based NGO and heavily involved the Palestinian Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education, UNRWA as well as civil society organizations such as Tamer Institute and Al-Iman Centre for Childhood in Jerusalem. In 1998, the Ministry took official ownership of the programme and renamed it National Programme for Developing Palestinian Children’s Literature: the (DPCL).

Based on this successful experience, Sida decided to create a regional programme and developed a programme proposal in consultation with a variety of resource people from the sector.  To lead the project, Sida chose the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures (ALF) due to its regional character and its management of networks of civil society organizations affiliated with it in the countries of the MENA region.

This regional programme aimed at stimulating activities in the different countries of the Middle East & North Africa (MENA), and the following five countries were chosen as the focus countries: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.