Abu Dhabi: Aiming to encourage young children to do more reading, the Creative Reader Competition on Sunday held its awarding ceremony in Abu Dhabi, honouring 40 students as winners in what is the fifth edition of the event.
The competition, organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), opened for entries to school students across the emirate of Abu Dhabi in November last year, with the latest edition having seen its biggest participation with over 500 students entering the competition.
The awarding ceremony was held in March so as to coincide with the UAE’s Month of Reading, which sees a number of events being organised around the entire country centred around spreading the culture of reading. The Month of Reading has become an annual event in the country following the UAE’s Year of Reading in 2016.
“The main thing we want to encourage with this competition is reading, and this year we are happy to say that we had over 500 school students taking part, which is our largest number so far in the competition’s history,” said Fatima Al Tamimi, from the national library at the DCT Abu Dhabi, and the head of the competition.
“The evaluation process for selecting the 40 winners was based on a number of areas including reading, comprehension, understanding, fluency and accuracy in reading,” she added.
Maitha Al Khayat, an Emirati author who was part of the expert panel of judges throughout the competition, spoke positively on bringing young children and authors together.
“I think it’s great to have authors involved in competitions like this because many times children don’t often get the chance to actually see or interact with authors of books. Children may sometimes think that these wonderful stories they find in their books just appear by themselves and they don’t know that there are actually people who are writing them these stories, so it’s wonderful to be able to interact with them,” she said.
“I liked asking them creative questions and to dig into their personalities, to see not only what they learned from the books they read, but how they were going to use what they learned in the future,” she added.
Khadija Kudsi, another author from Saudi Arabia who was also involved in the competition, said a lot of the children had come away with their curiosity significantly aroused about taking up writing after having the chance to meet with the authors.
“In our part of the world a lot of children may often hear about authors from other parts of the world, but when they actually get to see and talk with authors from the same region and countries as them you can just see their eyes light up.
“They are so interested to know that we write books as well and it creates a big impression and influence for them, so I really do believe that it’s so important to create these opportunities to have authors from the region meeting and interacting with young children,” she added.
“I personally loved meeting all of the young children, reading my books to them, holding workshops with them, and going through what they were reading and what sort of books they liked,” she said.
Al Khayat and Kudsi both agreed that being female authors from the region was another positive, especially for young girls aspiring to become future writers.