Developing Reading Habits in Children

booksImportance of reading

The first revelation of the Quran was the first five verses of Surah Al- Alaq:

“Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists). Has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood).Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen (the first person to write was Prophet Idrees (Enoch)). Has taught man that which he knew not.” ( Al-Alaq 96:1-5)

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” (Richard Steele)

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn the more places you’ll go.” (Dr. Seuss)

Early bird catches the worm

Many parents are concerned about how to develop reading habits in their children and save them from unnecessary and time wasting activities. When your child is still a baby, there are some things you can do to help him or her learn! The first three years of life are very important in developing your child’s mind and abilities. Here are some ways to give your child an early and strong start.

1. Capture with picture

Picture reading can be started at a very young age i.e. from the age of 6-six months.

2. Bed time stories

Every night before sleeping, one of the parents can read a book to a child. Initially, the book should be pictorial. Then a book having few words, followed by a book with simple to complex sentences, as the child grows older.

3. Read and teach

Children are quite observant and love to explore everything around. So whenever they pick up a thing and if there is something written on it, adults can help them read in a playful manner.  Such as the text on jam jars, bottles of lotion, powder, water, packets of biscuits, rusk, chips, etc.

4. Read together

Every morning, when you read newspaper, make your child sit with you and play a game of reading headlines one by one. First you read one heading and then make the child read the other. Cuttings of interesting and knowledgeable sentences along with pictures can be pasted in a journal, as children love cut and paste activities.

5. Reading on-the-go

When going outside to Masjid, restaurant, shopping mall or any place, where you can utilize the time constructively, play reading games on way by reading the names of shops, banks, grocery stores, billboards, banners and slogans to enrich child’s vocabulary and observation.

6. Introduce reading etiquette

Establish a library area in the room. Encourage children to bring books, read them and put them back later on. Show them, how to hold and open a book, without spoiling or tearing it. Also, demonstrate as to how to turn the pages with care. Tell them about the different parts of a book in a conversational tone such as the cover, the end and the spine. When reading out a story, show them from where a sentence begins, in which direction do we read and how we read from top to bottom,  without expecting them to understand or remember straight away. Talk to them about different kinds of books like story books tell us stories, dictionaries give us the meanings of different words, encyclopedias tell us about so many different thing like animal, plants, buildings, history. This way you can introduce the Holy book Quran as well by telling them that this is the Book of Allah (swt) which is a complete and authentic guide for us, it is our Manual Book! It tells us how to spend our lives and most importantly Allah (swt) talks to us through it.

7.  Reader-friendly environment

Provide a print rich environment. Children learn to read fast by trying to make sense of the print they come across. We can support their efforts by labeling objects and areas in the house.

8. Flash cards rule

Making flash cards is a great help in learning letters and vocabulary. Prepare square cards with alphabets (any language you want your child to learn: Arabic, Urdu, English, etc.) and play matching games. Match the cards to objects and pictures which begin with a particular letter. Say the initial letter sound of objects and match it to the object that the letter represents. Begin with words that are personally meaningful for the child like his/her own name, name of family members, pets, favorite food and places. Keep an ear open for children’s interest and use words that are important for them to help them “read” letters of the alphabet and sight words.

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” (Frederick Douglass)

Happy reading!

Making the Most of Book Fairs

Making the Most of Book Fairs

By Hafsa Ahsan – Senior Assistant Editor, “Hiba” Magazine

Book fairs and book expos are definitely the events to look out for – not only do they offer a variety of books on all subjects under one roof, one can also avail much-needed discounts and special offers. However, like any other event, this one also needs to be thoroughly planned out. Here are a few tips to make the most of the book fairs.

Make a List

Entering a book fair without a list has the potential to turn your entire trip into a disaster, especially if it is crowded with no room for browsing. It is best to find out well in advance which publishers will be exhibiting; you can then look up their website to browse and read the reviews of the new and upcoming titles. Of course, this does not mean you cannot pick and choose titles on the go; however, if you have limited time (and space), a list is most handy.

Sort the List

Which books are really necessary to purchase at a book fair where there are original, hard-cover editions? Are there any books which can be borrowed from friends or purchased second-hand? You can do some research in order to sort the list.

Make a Budget

Once you have finalized your list, make your budget. It is best to save beforehand or make sure you receive your committee money in the months preceding the book fair. How much you decide to put aside depends entirely upon your list.

On the Day Itself

Make sure you reach as early as possible on a weekday to avoid massive crowds. Try to arrange baby-sitting for babies and pre-schoolers. Arrange a special, separate trip for children on the weekend, so they can have some fun with the activities organized especially for them.

Did you know?

In the very first Karachi International Book Fair in 2005, there were 50 participants in one hall. In 2011, there were three halls and 290 exhibitors.

Deutshe Welle’s Urdu service (Germany) covered the 2011 book fair in Karachi. Updates were sent from Karachi to their Bonn headquarter from where they were relayed across the European Union.

Lahore International Book Fair is the largest annual international book fair; the 2011 event was held in Johar Town, Lahore, where 165 local and foreign publishers and education-related organisations set up stalls.

Eight hundred Arabic and international exhibitors from more than 60 countries set up stalls at the 21st Abu Dhabi International Book Fair held in 2011.

In 2011, the first Arabic Book Fair was held at the Dubai Women’s College as part of the Library Week event under the patronage of Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al-Nahyan, then Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

MV Logos Hope, the world’s largest floating book fair, arrived in Dubai in 2011. It offered a selection of over 7,000 books and had the capacity to entertain 800 visitors on board at any one time. Its International Café hosted many interactive displays and activities, including an opportunity to meet any one of 400 crew members.

Book Reviews

Don't be sadDon’t be Sad

(476 pages)

You can be the Happiest Woman in the World: A Treasure Chest of Reminders

(270 pages)

Aiadh Ibn Abdullah Al-Qarni

International Islamic Publishing House

Availability: “Don’t be Sad” Rs.800/- Darussalam, Tariq Road

“Be happy, at peace and joyful; and don’t be sad.”

A heavy load of responsibilities and increasingly less time for ourselves often leave us worn out and spiritually exhausted. Allah (swt) did not promise us a smooth and easy travel through life, for the life of this world is but a test through which we can prove ourselves worthy of the eternal abode with our Lord. However, Allah (swt) has given us excellent scholars, who can help us make our travel through life most pleasant and beneficent with their wisdom and great insights into the Quran and the Prophetic traditions. Al-Qarni is one such scholar, having the beautiful gift of being able to inspire people and fill their souls with the special radiance that comes from keeping eyes focused on the guidance of Allah (swt).

Aiadh Ibn Abdullah Al-Qarni was born in 1397 AH. In 1422 AH, he obtained his Doctor’s degree from Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University. Al-Qarni has written on Hadeeth, Tafsir, Fiqh, Arabic literature, Sirah and biography as well as recorded more than 800 audiocassettes of Khutbahs, lessons, lectures and soirees. Originally written in Arabic, “Don’t be Sad” and “You can be the Happiest Woman in the World” are two of his books, which are now available also for the English readers.

In his introduction to “Don’t be Sad”, Al-Qarni says: “I wrote this book for anyone who is living through pain and grief or who has been afflicted with a hardship, a hardship that results in sadness and restless nights. For the cure, I have filled the pages of this book with dosages taken from various sources – the Quran, the Sunnah, poetry, poignant anecdotes, parables and true stories.” Although based on the true religion of Allah (swt), Al-Qarni’s “Don’t be Sad” speaks to both Muslims and non-Muslims, since the nature of sorrow and despair crosses the boundaries of faiths. It might be objectionable to some that along with the Quran and the Sunnah the author quotes also Eastern and Western thinkers, but he does so claiming that “wisdom is the goal of every believer, wherever he finds it.”

As the title suggests, “You can be the Happiest Woman in the World” is written for women – Muslim women in particular. “My sister,” Al-Qarni addresses his Muslim reader, “read this book to help you cleanse your mind of the clutter of illusions and devilish whispers and show you the way to a sense of tranquility, faith, joy and happiness. (…) I have presented this book as a treasure chest filled with beautiful ideas, with which you may adorn your life.” Happiness is a treasure every woman strives to find and hold onto when it is achieved. Al-Qarni’s recommendations in this book are designed to encourage the Muslim woman to rejoice in her religion and in the graces that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon her. Words of wisdom and practical advice from real life situations guide the readers of the book to the path of becoming the happiest women on earth.

Both Al-Qarni’s books are presented in an easy-to-grasp arrangement of chapters, each not longer than a page or two, which make a pleasant read. If at any time of the day you are looking for a dosage of inspiration or some soothing words of wisdom for your soul, take a cup of tea and relax for some minutes as you are reading through a chapter of “Don’t be Sad” or “You can be the Happiest Woman in the World.”