“The year of reading is the beginning of a permanent change in the UAE society to foster a reader generation conscious of developments, and ready to lead a new stage of development in the country.” – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

In January 2016, HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan declared 2016 the Year of Reading for the UAE. Sheikh Mohammed has also challenged a million students in the UAE to read a minimum of 50 Arabic Language books in his reading challenge.

Developing a culture of reading in schools is very beneficial for the development of students. Reading is one of the most important skills to develop and prepare students for academic success in the future. The following are a few tips to consider.

Tip 1: Get caught reading

Modelling behaviour is a successful and proven method of instruction. Students learn by observation. Teachers should encourage students to read in their free time. By occasionally carrying a book to class, the teacher will pique students’ interest, especially if it is a book they have never seen. They should discuss the importance of reading at home and share with students the books that they enjoy reading. Encourage your students to create a reading log and to read at least 30 minutes a week independently at home.

Tip 2: encourage D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read)

DEAR is a great concept that promotes a culture of reading in a fun way. It gives students time to read what they want to read, share what they’ve read, and receive the support they need for further reading explorations and reflections. With DEAR you encourage students to carry a ‘free’ reading book of their choice, or a class novel being read by the class. Include it in your lesson plan at the beginning of the lesson or closure for 10 minutes, twice a week, or simply plan for a weekly full period. With proper implementation, DEAR can give teachers structured time to touch base with each student over a period of time, assess progress and target instruction. If you are interested starting DEAR at your school you can get all the resources needed at http:// dropeverythingandread.com/

Tip 3: schedule regular library visits

Work closely with the school librarian to schedule regular monthly, fortnightly or weekly library visits. This exposes students to a wide variety of reading material, and could be combined with DEAR to fully maximize reading potential and opportunities. Having a set library time also encourages students to explore different genres of literature.

Tip 4: teach students how to use the library

Students should be trained on how to use the library. Teach them how to effectively research topics and use library resources. Give students samples of informational texts, case studies or journal articles to practice reading comprehension skills. Think of creative and critical thinking activities and projects that encourage reading and research. Knowing how to effectively use the library and its resources can be very beneficial to students’ future academic success.

Tip 5: host a Book Fair

Encourage your school to host a book fair or fairs throughout the academic year. This is allows students to shop and explore new reading material. It also shows students that reading is so important that the school has brought a plethora of new reading opportunities right into their hands. Book Fairs provide a great opportunity to engage students, parents and the community in encouraging reading outside of the school.

By Chassie Selouane

Chassie Selouane has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre & Education, a Master’s of Education Degree – Curriculum Instruction with a Specialization in ESl. Chassie is the Director of Learning at SAIS-Dubai.

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