Reading today, creating tomorrow

Stories have rather been one of the most important and effective ways of communication and a major part of how we have been able to bring our culture forward

By Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash

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Published: Tue 28 Dec 2021, 11:07 PM

For as long as mankind has existed, stories have been a part of our evolution. Stories have rather been one of the most important and effective ways of communication and a major part of how we have been able to bring our culture forward, through years and centuries.

Our civilisations, the voyage of their progression, the international shifts that have defined our present – it has all been conveyed with the help of stories for as long as we’ve walked this planet. Stories have helped keep civilisations connected to their roots by being the most important means by which knowledge, information, and events are transmitted.

In the words of American author Walter Mosely, “A good short story crosses the borders of our nations and our prejudices and our beliefs. A good short story asks a question that can’t be answered in simple terms. And even if we come up with some understanding, years later, while glancing out of a window, the story still has the potential to return, to alter right there in our mind and change everything.”

Of all kinds of stories that we know of, short stories, specifically, have, over the years, continuously helped spread the education of religions, society, and politics. It is an ancient art of literary writing that still has its loyal fans and writers, and its delicate, attractive, and intense appeal is still capable of raising and addressing many meaningful humane issues.

The importance of the short stories lies in the fact that they have been useful in building awareness, establishing cultural formation, and nurturing societies over the last many years. Short stories develop the reader’s cultural understanding through a spectrum of scientific, historical, artistic, and literary ideas as well as through the linguistic wealth and new meanings it provides.

Reading short stories has a number of benefits but one of the most important ones lies in the fact that they are the quickest and the most reliable way of getting acquainted with a new genre or author. Reading short stories or short story collections from genres or authors makes sure you are well acquainted with different types of writers and different types of stories opening up your horizon and making you an avid reader!

Short Stories are an ideal way to familiarise yourself with the style and characteristics of the literary work you are about to uncover since they provide you with a short overview of the plot and form.

It also constitutes the means of instilling authentic values and triggering virtuous behaviour in the hearts of the younger generations without having to resort to preaching, thereby enhancing their awareness of abstract notions, such as love, optimism, sincerity, and faith. Thanks to the ability of short stories to embody these concepts and bring them closer to the minds of the recipients and makes for truly efficient use of time.

Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) acknowledges the importance of building a community of readers that uses science and knowledge for attaining the highest levels of civilisation. Therefore, encouraging society members to read, especially children and youth, is a priority, and the Authority spares no effort in making public libraries cultural centres that contribute to building a knowledge society in Dubai. Hence, the Authority provides rich treasures of knowledge in various fields across Dubai Public Library branches and is keen to provide readers with the finest atmosphere and latest facilities.

Marking the ‘Short Story Day’ this month, Dubai Culture stresses upon the importance of this type of literature in encouraging the habit of reading among generations and instill them with love for books, inviting children to experience the pleasures of reading. Therefore, the Authority calls on parents to encourage their children to read and train them to make it a habit from a young age as well as to take them to public libraries, which greatly contributes to raising a generation that loves to read and motivates them to excel in all fields of knowledge and science.

Another benefit of short stories is that they can be read in one sitting. On Short Story Day, Dubai Culture invited all society members to visit its public libraries to indulge in reading a short story to enrich their imaginations as they may become short-story writers in the future!

As custodians of the culture and heritage of Dubai, we suggest everyone should make reading short stories a habit. There is, perhaps, no better attempt at understanding the challenges that life has to offer and accepting the differences that make everyone in the world unique. Short stories are empowering and hence also a source of endless emotional and mental strength for anyone in life.

Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash is CEO of the Arts & Literature Sector at Dubai Culture and Arts Authority

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