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Best school librarians honoured in UAE

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on February 5, 2020 | Last updated on February 5, 2020 at 08.44 pm
Best, school librarians, honoured, UAE, School Librarian of the Year, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

(Photo by Juidin Bernarrd)

They were recognised for the innovative ways they introduced to make reading a fun habit for kids.

Some of the most outstanding school librarians in the country - who tirelessly promote reading and learning among students - were honoured at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on Wednesday. Suhair Jalal Abdulrahman, a kindergarten librarian at the Rawdat Al Oula in Abu Dhabi, and Alan Jacques from the Uptown School, Mirdiff in Dubai, are the 2020 recipients of the annual School Librarian of the Year (SLOY) Awards.

They were recognised for the innovative ways they introduced to make reading a fun habit for kids.

For Abdulrahman, it's all about making youngsters feel at home in the library.

"I have a small library for approximately 480 children belonging to KG1 and KG2. My students have been encouraged to treat the library like it is a big home," she told Khaleej Times.

She makes book characters come alive. "I narrate the story books animatedly, get them to draw and colour pictures, etc."

In Abdulrahman's library, students are encouraged to read about 25 stories a year and are asked to analyse what they've read. The students are given booklets and points in the form of 'stars' are awarded for good behaviour.

"I also give them points for maintaining a book well," said Suhair. The school organises field trips to various public libraries across the country and students participate in reading carnivals organised by the Ministry of Education.

Reading for senior students

A librarian from New Zealand, Jacques snagged the award in the private school category. For him, libraries are no longer "a stuffy place where students are sent to be punished".

"Libraries have changed a lot, and haven't changed at all. In terms of being a storehouse for information, it hasn't changed at all, however, more books are being published now than ever before," Jacques said.

Getting kids to read short stories are an excellent way to encourage them to read bigger books, he added. "We've introduced a lot of new contemporary Arabic books, including graphic novels and other works of fiction."

More than 123 nominations from around the country were submitted for the awards, of which six librarians were recognised, the two first-place winners and the runners-up.

Shumous Majid Bin Faris, strategic development adviser at the General Secretariat of Executive Council of Dubai, said: "The award is part of an initiative dedicated to elevating the community culturally and educationally by positioning literacy as a cornerstone."

Isobel Abulhoul OBE, CEO and trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation, said: "Influencing children to read books for pleasure is one of the most important responsibilities there is in preparing the next generation to become well-rounded citizens."



Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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