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Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival – Are our Children Reading for Reading’s Sake?
An interactive session at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), entitled ‘A Lifetime Reading Habit: How to Create a Reading Habit in Young Children’, has heard that fostering a love of reading in children and young adults must be through inspiration rather than education.
Zakaria Ahmed, Educational and Cultural Consultant at Al Yaqadha Arab Library for Women and Children in Ras Al Khaimah emphasised the pivotal role of families and cultural organisations, stressing that today’s readers are tomorrow’s leaders.
He told the audience that many countries such as the USA, Japan and several European nations have realised that encouraging children to read by simply highlighting its ‘importance’ is no longer enough to create lifetime readers.
“The rapid pace of development in all walks of life requires new methodologies to boost reading and promote culture. We should not link all reading to acquiring knowledge nor to any other goal. We should help our children to understand that reading is as much a journey as it is a destination. If we do not, reading will lose its meaning and significance – even if it achieves its objectives,” he said.
Zakaria Ahmed explored key Arab and international reading projects, which aim to encourage children and adults to read. He acknowledged the ‘Arab Reading Challenge’, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He also commended the Knowledge without Borders (KwB) ‘Home Library’ project, a Sharjah-based cultural campaign, providing each Emirati household in Sharjah with 50 scientific and literary books.
He also drew attention to the ‘Family Library Project’ in Egypt, and the ‘Jordanian Family Library’ project within the Middle East. Internationally, he underlined the ‘Delicious Books Edible Book Contest’, held in Europe each year, in which children have to create an edible book title or design through meals or cakes and the ‘1.000 Books before Kindergarten’ competition, which is organised in Japan as well as a number of European countries.