“Whenever I held a book in my hands, I would feel them shaking. I was always saying to myself: “Oh, my God! How can I read all this? It is impossible.” But my attitude completely changed when I joined the programme.”
This is how Luay Shaaban Islim, a student in the sixth grade in Gaza, describes his feelings after he started attending the “Reading Together” programme at the Qattan Centre for the Child (QCC). In a short period of time, Luay was able to type letters, arrange words in construction games, and to form whole phrases fluidly.
Luay’s story with the Centre began when he visited QCC’s library during winter 2010. Luay tried hard to choose simple books to read. “Despite my passion for adventure stories, I was not able to read them at all,” he says. “I tried to understand them using the illustrations and to read a few words, but it was difficult.”
“Reading Together” seeks to develop the reading, writing, and Arabic language abilities of children in the third to sixth grades. The Centre believes that literacy is closely related to the overall education of children at all stages of their schooling. The programme aims to improve students’ speaking skills and pronunciation, increase their vocabulary, improve their reading comprehension, and boost their overall confidence in reading, without limiting them to the school curriculum. All of these aims are geared towards fostering a love of reading in students.
Luay joined the programme three months ago and has showed a remarkable progress. “His improvement was obvious after every meeting,” says Riad Awdi, the director of “Reading Together” programme. “He showed great perseverance, and he carried out the practical activities with enthusiasm and a desire to learn. He became more confident and began to participate more closely with his peers in the programme.”
Luay’s mother also describes her happiness with Luay’s participation in the programme. “I feel so happy today because Luay has got much better. He is now able to pronounce letters and read words properly and with more confidence.”
Reading broadens the horizons for mental and spiritual progress; it also develops a child’s perception and imagination. It is now known that teaching children to read at an early age is of great importance to their learning in later years, hence the “Reading Together” Programme works to create an early connection between children and books. Luay is a living example of what the programme seeks to achieve.