Abu Dhabi: Summer break is a great opportunity for schoolchildren to curl up with a good book and strengthen their reading skills further, school leaders in the capital said. Even in the digital age, there is much room for holding and reading an actual book, they stressed, adding that children can however choose to read up on the topics and subjects they find most engaging.
With 2016 declared as the Year of Reading in the UAE, many schools have already taken measures to encourage the positive habit among their pupils and parents can use the summer holidays to encourage their offspring to spend some hours every day reading.
“There is no doubt that the more children read, the better they will be able to write and learn,” Paul Abraham, principal at the Virginia Private School, told Gulf News. The American curriculum school currently enrols children from kindergarten to Grade 6.
“This year, we established a reading programme that had children regularly borrow books from libraries and discuss what they had read afterwards. So as pupils head home for the summer break, we are encouraging them to keep up the habit. Once they are back, we will have long, fruitful discussions and organise presentations about what they have learnt,” Abraham added,
Brandan Law, headmaster at Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi that enrols about 700 pupils and follows the English National Curriculum, said the school would also continue with its year-long programme to encourage reading.
“Reading is part of the daily fabric of life at Cranleigh. As a further push, we set up an initiative to have the pupils take selfies that show them reading in a variety of places. We received really interesting photos, including some with children reading at the beach or underwater,” he said.
“So we have told pupils to continue reading wherever they can during the summer, and take some selfies while they’re at it. Once they are back from the break, we will have a competition for the most unusual places they have read in, and also track the variety of places where Cranleigh pupils have immersed themselves into a book,” Law added.
Dr Rishi Padegaonkar, principal at Indian curriculum school Bright Riders, encouraged parents to discuss the books their children read with them. What impressed them about the plot? Which character did they find most appealing and why? Probing aspects such as these will help children to think about what they have read.
“[It] helps children internalise what they learn from their reading, make the activity more fun and also help them absorb the values and lessons the book delivers. In the digital age where screens capture children’s interest quicker than books, such discussion is necessary,” Dr Padegaonkar said.
With regard to book recommendations, the leaders added that children should be able to follow their own specific interests.
“I don’t think we should be hung up on getting children to read a specific set of books. A simple activity outdoors can perhaps interest a child in nature, and this might be the most engaging topic for them to read up on,” Law said.
Abraham added that some books are timeless classics, like the ‘Curious George’ series or the ‘Dr Seuss’ books, and they still engage today’s children.