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UAE teachers and students vow to extend love for reading beyond 2016

ABU DHABI // The year of reading may be coming to a close, but teachers and students have vowed to keep up their work to instil a passion for the written word in their friends and colleagues.

These days, reading competes with a wide range of ‘easier’ pastimes – from video games to mobile phones – but for Sari Al Hemeiri sitting down with a good book, or writing out his homework by hand, surpasses all of these.

“On the computer you write and read without thinking but on paper it feels different, ideas come quicker and it’s more understandable,” said the nine-year-old student. “When you write on paper, there’s something in your heart that tells you to keep going.

“When I’m reading, even when it’s time to go for a break, I sometimes want to just stay and continue.”

The Emirati’s passion for the written word is clear in his school work, which won his class a box of books from publisher Scholastic Books as part of the #UAEReads Challenge.

“With Sari, his passion for reading is clear,” said Nagat Eid, his Arabic teacher at Al Yasmina School, adding that keeping students challenged is key to improving their reading skills.

“It comes from us and from the parents, so we work with them and scale up our reading assignments so that students stay challenged, and, of course, encourage them all the way.”

The school’s curriculum gives students the option to read the books they want and choose between assignments ranging from presenting to the class a short lesson they learnt from their book, to writing an alternate ending.

Ms Eid said students with different levels of understanding are given the chance to work in a way that interests and encourages them.

“We value reading highly here, before you can write you need to learn how to read and speak. You learn to write a good story from reading, you can’t just magic it up in your brain,” said Kate Davis, the school’s deputy principal.

“In books, you learn different kind of things, more vocabulary, adjectives, ways to improve your own writing, and it gives you more ideas in your own writing,” said Ms Davis, adding that a pupils’ love of reading is developed through the passion shown by teachers.

As a result, the school allows individual members of staff to teach books that they are particularly fond of and approved within the national curriculum.

Along with the box of books given to Sari as a reward for winning the competition, he was also given access to Scholastic’s e-library.

This year was declared the year of reading in the UAE to create a generation of book lovers and to consolidate the country’s position as a global capital for culture and knowledge.

As part of the #UAEReads Challenge, The National and publisher Scholastic are giving away more than 40,000 books.

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The National