There are many reasons why reading to our children is one of the greatest gifts we can ever give them, and whatever your intentions, if you are anything like me then the constant search for new titles and authors to explore takes up a significant amount of time!
This weekend I squeezed in a trip to Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre whilst on a family trip to Mall of the Emirates. I seem to find myself spending an awful lot of money on buying books for my 2 girls and yet I feel we never seem to have something new and exciting to read. A friend had told me about a library connected to DUCTAC where you could borrow kiddie books and adult titles. Aptly named “The Old Library”, this great little place has actually been open for business for over 40 years and is the oldest English language library in the UAE – yet it remains relatively unknown (and definitely under-used) –until now mamas! Run by a very dedicated group of happy volunteers who support this non-profit organization to help the local community, all funds received from subscriptions and fines go straight back into the Library primarily to buy new books, so don’t be under any disillusions. Books by Helen Oxenbury and Rod Campbell are amongst a vast collection, and if your toddler is a Peppa Pig or Charlie & Lola fan then they are guaranteed to be in book heaven. What I love about this library is that it allows our children to escape the flash life and reconnect with reading – there are lots of little nooks in which to hide away with a story, the shelves are packed with treasures to excite little minds and in some way I’m sure we absorb wisdom by being around all those wonderful books!
Reading is important for the development of your child, encouraging better communication, helping to master a language and helping to build the very special art of imagination. For many of us, a bedtime story is a very special bonding experience and offers time to explore new topics with your little one whilst also enforcing the importance of quiet/listening time (not always easy!) to enhance concentration and encourage discipline. But don’t think that you have to go out and buy new books every week, a library may sound old fashioned but is actually the best way to avoid reaching for the same stories over and over again! Kids also love getting involved in picking out books and planning which they’d like to borrow.
In addition to offering a superb collection of books for rental, the library also organise a sweet story time every week. On Sunday mornings between 10.30 – 11.15 (11am – 11.45am during July and August) a mixed age group of preschoolers gather to listen to a new tale, such a lovely activity particularly during these very hot summer months but make sure you sign up in advance mama as I’m not the only one who’s stumbled across this little gem!
Charging an AED 50 joining fee and an annual membership fee of AED 200, The Old Library allows you to borrow up to 8 books at one time, for a period of 4 weeks. They also gratefully accept any book donations if you want to recycle some of your much-read favourites. Take a leaf out of this book mamas and get your kiddos loving the library!
The Old Library, DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates