DUBAI There’s nothing unusual about wanting to catch a movie on a Friday evening. But for those converging on the Safestway Supermarket complex on Dubai’s Shaikh Zayed Road on May 29, it was a markedly differently experience.
As a giant projector screen beamed the Paul King comedy film Paddington, there was no mistaking the animated response of the many children and their parents gathered at the wooden-stepped auditorium at Reademption on the first floor.
Billed as the UAE’s largest multi-channel library, Reademption’s purpose behind screening the choice movie had been served. The friendly spectacled bear Paddington had so endeared himself to the audience that they couldn’t wait to lay their hands on Michael Bond’s best-selling series of adventure books on which the film was based.
“That’s the whole idea,” said Jitesh Surjiani, the man behind the six-month-old library which has more than 40,000 titles in various reading formats, including e-books, audio books, read-along books, talking books, digital encyclopedia, language learning tools and edutainment resources.
A father of two, Surjiani said he set up Reademption to revive reading as a religion. “Like any other father, I was not happy with two things: my children did not have a cost-effective access to good reading content and good books were not available in the medium of their choice,” said Surjiani.
But piecing together a multi-channel library was not enough. “I wanted to nurture a reading community, not just of kids but also parents. I wanted to create a catalyst for families to come together and develop a fondness for reading good content,” said Surjiani.
A former corporate professional, the 38-year-old said: “I haven’t come across a single parent who is not concerned about a child’s abuse of digital media. But while everyone agrees on that, the approach to dealing with the issue is debatable. Parents tell their children to read books, take away their iPads and smart phones and deny them access to TV. But it doesn’t work that way. To make children read, they have to read themselves and be good role models. That’s why we focus on parents as well at Reademption.”
The multi-channel library holds a number of events to foster a sense of bonding between parents and children. They include screening of movies based on select books, book club get-togethers, lectures and author readings. According to Surjiani, the library’s informal setting where families can just “throw themselves down” bean bags or the wooden steps also helps.
“Our members just fall in love with the experience.”
For a monthly fee of Dh100 members can access a wide variety of reading content in different formats. Titles include everything from general and women’s fiction to mystery, thrillers and suspense. There are books for young adults and children in different age brackets.
Surjiani said the entire library is available to members in their palm – on a mobile app. This enables them to manage their accounts, browse titles, reserve books and read and contribute to reviews. While they can directly access the e-content by logging in to the library’s website or through the app, they can collect the physical content or even have it home-delivered at an extra fee of Dh50. There are specific terms and conditions to which they must abide by while accessing digital content.
The library is open seven days a week from 10am to 7pm.