Celebrate the Year of Giving by donating your time or money to promoting literacy. Reach out and inspire our young and senior minds by giving your time and creative energy:
1. Volunteer to read for one hour at a nursery, school, special needs center or a senior care center.
2. Help children or young people make up their own story in a park or creative open space.
3. Take old articles from an online news archive and read it to elders in a senior center or park. Leave time for reflective discussion at the end.
4. Tell each of your children/nieces/nephews/cousins to read a section of a book with a humanitarian theme and discuss together as a group
5. Read a story and ask children to draw their image of the story and discuss it as a group
6. Read a story and then act it out to ensure the “actors” understand the themes and moral of the story
7. visit a library or bookstore to meet an author and learn more about their writing process and inspiration for writing
8. Speak/write to local children’s authors to learn more about their process, ideation and other practical aspect of their publishing process
9. Volunteer to donate your gently used books to a humanitarian group that needs and donates books to needy families.
10. Record your children reading inspirational stories and give as gifts to shelters or camps for families to share — alternatively recreate a story with creative illustrations to share a personalized story with others.
All of these are examples of how we can share the gift of reading during the Year of Giving. After attending a book fair I was so excited to learn that becoming an author is not easy, but attainable. I listened to an inspiring author at The American Book Association in Chicago. This author was a high school teacher who discovered he had not been able find a book to match the interest of young African boys in his class. This inspired him to write a book that would appeal to young adult African American readers.
However, after writing the book it was such a huge success – he left his post as a teacher to promote the book with a major publishing house. He was given a contract to publish three more books and went on a speaking tour across the US in libraries, schools and book fairs. His name is Christopher Paul Curtis, he did not realize his writing career would take off the way it did. However, several of his books were made into films for television and much more came as a result of his writing. Publishers were encouraged to produce more books which did get young adults interested in reading — the author has even provided workshops and courses for aspiring writers to achieve their dream of inspiring young people through reading.
Here are some authors whom I consider exceptional “accidental authors” turned successful writers with an inspiring message of hope and humanitarian good:
Dr Ahmed Al Shoaibi is currently an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in 2008. He has authored more than 70 technical papers. The Tales of Hamad is Al Shoaibi’s first endeavor in creative writing. His follow up book series entitled, The Tales of Ayesha, will debut soon. Don’t miss the chance to hear him speak at the Emirates Literature Festival.
Dr. Gemal Seede is an IT guru with career experience working with Disney. He also finds time to author a children’s book entitled, "Chug and Thug: The Alug Bugs” it is the first book in a series that involves the adventures of two adorable bugs, Chug and Thug, and the moral, ethical and maturation lessons they learn. In this book, after a dangerous experience older brother Chug learns the value of patience, moderation, obeying the advice of his mother, and most importantly, remember God in all matters.
S. Raiyyan is a UAE-based author who inspires children with her books focusing on rewarding kindness: “Noor and the Prized Pennies,” “Betsy gets her Wings” and “Noor and The Prized Pennies.” The latter is about a poor little boy growing up with his mother in a mystical land where wizards and fairies exist. An act of kindness to a total stranger changes their lives for the better. “Betsy gets her Wings” is about a caterpillar who takes a long time to become a butterfly. By helping a strange butterfly who is hurt in the woods, Betsy and Cindy are repaid for their kindness and finally grow the most beautiful wings ever seen in the Butterfly Kingdom.