There’s no great secret to getting children to read more often.
According to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai, all it takes is #10Minutes10Days.
Using the hashtag, the educational body invited parents to promise to read with their children for at least 10 minutes on 10 different days between April 10 and May 10.
The response to this challenge was infectious on social networks, with parents posting pictures of their children pouring over books, maps and comics.
Rehna Khalid, a Dubai-based entrepreneur, said the campaign had an unexpectedly pleasant side effect.
@ArabBabaThatsMe: '#10Minutes10Days has my baby reading with her grandfather. To me this is one of the most magical pics.'
She said: “I used to read with my son regularly. Regularly reading aloud has helped him improve his vocabulary and attention span. But with this initiative from KHDA, it turned out to be a family activity, as my husband and older son also started reading with my eight-year-old.”
Twitter user @ShubhaPatil9 agreed: “The #10Minutes10Days program is really good, it binds families together, gets kids to read more and can extend the time of reading, too!”
Dubai-based Facebook user Jose Parveen shared a picture of herself reading to her son at bedtime and said: “One of the best ways to encourage our kids to read books and keep up that habit is in parents’ hands.”
Many children found it to be the perfect way to connect with their grandparents.
Twitter user @ArabBabaThatsMe, a stay-at-home father of two girls, posted a picture of his daughter with her grandfather, and wrote: “#10Minutes10Days has my baby reading with her grandfather. To me this is one of the most magical pictures.”
A study by the American Academy of Paediatrics in 2015 found that if parents read to their children, they directly impact their “cognitive, language and social-emotional development.” Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to find that children from more stimulating home reading environments had greater activity in the parts of the brain that help with narrative comprehension and visual imagery.
Schools around the UAE used the #10Minutes10Days hashtag to promote reading among their students, as well.
KHDA concluded the initiative with a thank you to parents, on their website: “We loved the community support this campaign has generated … we received more than 1,000 signatures from parents who have told us how much they appreciated the opportunity to spend more quality time reading with their children. Kids have also told us that they now look forward to a story before bedtime, every night!”
They will announce the winners of the #10Minutes10Days campaign through their social media channels and website, during the first week of Ramadan.
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