Over at ArabLit, I write about a new survey on Arab reading habits. Survey authors say that the adage “Egypt writes, Lebanon publishes, and Iraq reads” is no longer valid. Of course, we know—and it’s always painful to think about this—that Iraqi literacy rates have plummeted (from 90 percent to below 60 percent) in the last generation.
So who is reading now?
It’s the Emiratis, the survey says, followed by Lebanese and Jordanians. As for Egypt, we not only fail to have a reading culture, but we also fail to improve children’s access to quality Arabic books or to focus on our children’s Arabic-language education.
If we want to have a writing, thinking, and creative culture in a generation, then we need to invest in our children’s literacy and love of reading. Full stop.
Kalimat has published the only children’s book about UAE’s National Day, في الإتحاد قوة.
You should be able to buy it at any major bookstore in the UAE. The book includes a CD, reading, and the national anthem sung by Hussein al-Jasmi. More from Kalimat.
Today: Go to the Korba Branch of Dar el Shorouk (with your children, please) at 5 p.m. for a storytelling and art workshop featuring the excellent عندما رقص الأسد.
Tomorrow: Hie thee to Al-Balsam books (also, with your children) to hear from award-winning author Rania Hussein Amin, author of the Farhana series.