UAE parents must take the lead by reading to their children

Abu Dhabi Reads campaign is launched to promote the culture of reading.

Teaching children to read is not the sole responsibility of the school but also of parents, says Adec. Ravindranath K / The National
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ABU DHABI // It takes a community to raise a reader. That’s the message the Abu Dhabi Education Council’s director general delivered at the launch of the fourth annual Abu Dhabi Reads campaign on Tuesday.

“Learning to read is not the school’s responsibility only, it’s the whole society’s responsibility,” said Dr Ali Al Nuaimi.

“And the basis of that will always be in the home, so having a library in the house is very important and having a mother who reads to her children is very important so we can transform into a society that reads. If the parents read, this will sustain and help us enhance and promote such culture.”

Abu Dhabi Reads, which began on Tuesday and continues until May 12, set out a list of suggested reading activities for schools, classrooms and pupils – from kindergarten to Grade 12.

The campaign is meant to promote a culture of reading.

It also offers rewards to the pupil who reads the most books, the teacher who produces the most innovative reading programme and the school that makes the best use of its learning resource centre or library. That last category is new this year, said Dr Najwa Al Hosani, Adec’s curriculum division manager.

“We are keen on making sure that all teaching and administrative staff and learning resource specialists – all the school-based staff – take part in this year’s campaign,” said Dr Al Hosani.

The school-level activities included designating a time when everyone in the building drops whatever it is they are doing and reads, having a character day when all staff and pupils come to school dressed as their favourite fictional character, book swaps, inviting parents to school to read with their children over breakfast and encouraging pupils to read on the bus, to name a few of the Adec suggestions. “The suggested activities are meant to help engage the schools and make sure no one is left behind in this year’s campaign,” Dr Al Hosani said.

Adec is conducting a survey of public schools in the emirate to measure the success of Abu Dhabi Reads and ascertain the pupils’ reading habits and interests, said Dr Al Hosani.

“We want to create and promote the culture of reading and we can’t do that without studying the impact of this campaign,” said Dr Al Hosani, adding that the results of the survey will be released to schools later this year. “We want it to have a real cultural impact.”

The campaign will conclude with a forum for educators to share and celebrate their successful reading strategies.

In the past, Abu Dhabi Reads contest winners were awarded cash prizes. This year, the prizes will be devices that promote reading, said Sara Al Suwaidi, Adec’s pedagogy and learning resources section manager.

If the campaign succeeds pupils will learn that the real rewards of reading are intrinsic.

“They need to come to a conclusion that ‘I’m reading for my own benefit’,” said Ms Al Suwaidi. “We know, as Dr Ali said, that it’s a culture so we can’t force it. It will take time, but gradually we will reach a point where there will be no competitions but reading for the sake of reading.”

rpennington@thenational.ae