UAE parents urged to fire youthful imagination with reading

Parents are urged to give the gift of reading this year.

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ABU DHABI // Parents are urged to give the gift of reading this year.

In December, the UK charity the National Literacy Trust revealed a study of tens of thousands of children had found one in eight of them had never been given a book as a present – leading many children to miss out on the chance to build confidence in reading outside the classroom.

Emad Abu Eid said this issue was probably amplified in Arab cultures, where parents prefer to give electronic devices such as iPhones or iPads as presents – rather than a paperback or hardback book.

“Usually parents give their children the smart phones or whatever. But nobody thinks about giving a book,” he said.

“This is the culture and we need a cultural shift.”

Mr Abu Eid said parents should follow the lead of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who, at the start of the annual Abu Dhabi International Fair every year, gifts millions of dirhams in reading vouchers for schoolchildren to buy books.

“We need to gift children books to give children the chance to love their reading,” he said.

Wesam Musleh, a library specialist with the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, said books are not often a popular choice as gifts in the Arabic culture.

“This is related with our culture,” he said. “When you bring something you have to bring something valuable or expensive.

“In our region we have to work more about this issue.”