UAE: 6 books you should read out to your kids this summer

We speak to local experts on what makes reading an important, nourishing activity

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Purva Grover

Published: Tue 16 Aug 2022, 11:47 AM

Last updated: Tue 16 Aug 2022, 1:57 PM

“Evidence shows that children who read for fun not only read more but also increase their reading skills more rapidly, feel more confident and go on to read more. It’s this intrinsic motivation that provides the magic ingredient in the recipe of creating readers. It’s the sense of enjoyment that distinguishes a skilled reader from a child who will go on to read for enjoyment throughout their life,” writes Cassie Chadderton, Chief Executive Officer, (CEO), World Book Day, in the foreword of the recently published report by Renaissance Learning.

Titled, What and How Kids Are Reading (2022 edition), the report throws light on topics like what books kids are reading often, how kids are reading, and more; helping experts and adults understand the book-reading behaviours of children.

Since 1986, Renaissance Learning’s mission has remained to accelerate learning for all children and adults of all ability levels and ethnic and social backgrounds, worldwide.

We speak to local experts on what books we should read out to our kids this summer, and what makes reading an important, nourishing activity. “I’m a strong believer that a well-rounded education goes beyond simple academics, sports and arts; it’s about raising children with good values and principles. No matter the culture we live in, most children look up to us, their parents, as their primary source of values. Because we’re role models for our children, we shouldn’t only strive to teach them good values but also take the time to explain why they matter."

"Our guidance is crucial so our kids can demonstrate kindness, empathy, love and acceptance of others. And reading is an amazing tool to help us achieve the above goals,” says Agne Skutelis, founder, aKINDemy, a unique book subscription service for families living in the UAE with children aged up to nine years.

Pratibha Jain Mathur, a kids and family insights expert and mother to two boys, 9 and 13, respectively, weighs in on this trend.

She says, “When you go through the varied experiences and emotions of the stories’ characters together, appreciating as well as empathising together, it nurtures a shared space where children feel comfortable talking about their own feelings, not just then, but for life.”

Rajeev Nair, father to a nine-year-old daughter who is an avid reader, and programme director at G42 (Group42), an Abu Dhabi-based company, says, “Summer is the perfect time to read to children, for they are away from the pressure of everyday school routines; and, hence, one can stimulate their imagination and expand their understanding of the world around them.”

1. Who Takes Care of You?

Author: Hannah Eliot

Age group: Up to two years

Families come in all shapes and sizes and if you are spending some precious time with yours this summer, this book is perfect for your little one! Childcare looks different from family to family. Whether there’s one caregiver, or two, or four — whether it’s a mother, a grandfather, or a babysitter — the most important thing for a child to know is that they are loved. This sweet board book highlights different kinds of caregivers, as well as the diversity among them. Celebrate the many different caregivers in a child’s life with this tender and inclusive book.

2. The Secret Life of Dubai’s Street Cats

Author: Bashayer Arif

Age group: Six years and above

A must-read for all animal lovers; this book is about a spirited street cat in our very own Dubai. Sharpclaw is an Arabian Mau and along with her two best friends, Twitch and Blacktail, she takes us around the streets of Dubai. Together, they spend their idyllic days sunning themselves and befriending humans who feed them. Out of the blue, a house cat called Killtooth moves into their neighbourhood and terrorises Sharpclaw and her friends. Gradually, Sharpclaw wins over Killtooth and they become friends. However, this friendship doesn’t survive for long. The author has woven diverse emotions such as hate, friendship, revenge and forgiveness skillfully into this story making this book a definitive summer read.

3. The Tale of a Toothbrush

Author: M. G. Leonard

Age group: Between three and five years

Never too early to introduce a brilliantly topical and delightfully funny picture book from the internationally bestselling author M.G. Leonard, that shows children what happens to their used plastic toothbrushes. Children use their toothbrushes each morning and evening and get new ones every few months. That’s billions of toothbrushes! What happens to them all when they’re no longer needed? And if toothbrushes take thousands of years to break down, what does that mean for our planet? With a fun cast of plastic characters, from pirate-ship bottles to dancing shampoos, and even an inquisitive albatross, The Tale of a Toothbrush is a positive and heart-warming story to help children explore the impact their choices have on our planet.

3. The Night Bus Hero

Author: Onjali Q. Raúf

Age group: Between nine and 11 years

Hector, the 10-year-old school bully, is part of a gang of three children, including Will and Katie, who constantly encourage him to act poorly, which he performs to gain their endorsement. Hector is always in detention at school, but he doesn’t mind the corporal punishment since he gets his best ideas at that point in time. In a bid to impress his friends, Hector steals a homeless man’s possessions that are stored in a trolley and manages to lose all of them by pushing them into a lake. He is caught in the act and is forced to volunteer at a soup kitchen to make amends. One day by accident, Hector discovers that there are major thefts of statues going on across London and he sets out to uncover the villains behind this and ends up helping innocent homeless people who were being accused of the thefts.

4. Horton Hatches the Egg

Author: Dr Seuss

Age group: Between five and eight years

This is a story about an elephant, Horton, who gets tricked into sitting on a bird’s egg for a full year, while its mother takes a vacation at Palm beach. He faces multiple tough situations throughout the year but continues to care for the egg, faithfully fulfilling his responsibility. Eventually, when the egg is about to hatch, the mother claims custody, Horton decides to give it back, but is rewarded for his faithfulness with a beautiful surprise! The catchphrase in this book, “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant... An elephant’s faithful, 100 per cent!” sums up its essence, teaching children about the importance of loyalty, responsibility, kindness and integrity.

5. The Berenstain Bears books

Authors: Jan Berenstain & Stan Berenstain

Age group: Between three and eight years

The Berenstain Bears’ stories revolve around a relatable family of four — Mama, Papa Bear and their two cubs — Brother and Sister Bear. All four characters are lovable and through their funny quirks and gentle humour, end up imparting some valuable life lessons. Each story’s plot is anchored in a real-life situation that kids and families face in their day-to-day lives — from basics like not chewing on nails or cleaning up, the many first times like the first dentist’s visit or the first day at school, to common worries like forgetting manners or trouble with friends, each story opens a page from kids’ lives. And the way the Bear family handles and works through each situation teaches children about empathy and the value of appreciating each one.


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