Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan and her “Wanna Read?” Initiative
The year 2016 has been declared as “The Year of Reading” and one of the most prominent leaders pushing the initiative is Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan who launched the Wanna Read initiative for kids to inculcate the habits of reading among the young. Sheikha Shamma talked to Tempo about the beginnings of Wanna Read and its aim to spread the love of reading.
TEMPO: Tell us about yourself Sheikha Shamma, what are your hobbies?
Sheikha Shamma: I enjoy outdoor activities, particularly horse riding; I am a keen show jumper. I’m quite creative and like making things; I recently took up quilting which gives me a lot of pleasure. Reading is also one of my great passions and I love all types of literature, both fiction and non-fiction.
TEMPO: What are you currently reading, Sheikha?
Sheikha Shamma: “How to Change the World” by John-Paul Flintoff.
TEMPO: Where do you get your love of reading from?
Sheikha Shamma: My parents. They always ensured that their children were surrounded by books and they also encouraged us to buy books before toys.
TEMPO: How did you come up with Wanna Read?
Sheikha Shamma: After visiting some hospitals abroad, I felt the need to give children in hospitals here an escape through books. I researched this and spoke to several people about the idea and got a lot of support. The initiative has really taken off – now everyone is talking about “Wanna Read?”.
TEMPO: Who does this initiative target?
Sheikha Shamma: It targets children in hospitals across the UAE.
TEMPO: What’s the benefit of nurturing the habit of reading in children?
SHEIKHA SHAMMA: IT’S VITAL THAT CHILDREN ARE ENCOURAGED TO READ BECAUSE IT HELPS TO DEVELOP THEIR INTELLECT AND STIMULATE THEIR IMAGINATION. IT ALSO HELPS THEM TO UNDERSTAND AND RELATE TO THE WORLD THAT THEY LIVE IN.
There was a study conducted in the US by Hart and Risley which revealed that the number of words spoken to children has a direct effect on their IQ and development.
TEMPO: How can schools and institutions get involved?
Sheikha Shamma: Schools can help in numerous ways, such as taking part in our WannaReadathon challenge, or organising spellathons and book donation events. We are open to ideas that involve community engagement. Contact our office for more information on this.
TEMPO: What is a normal day like in the life of Sheikha Shamma?
Sheikha Shamma: It begins with collecting my thoughts and planning the hours ahead as I make the journey to the office. At work I spend lots of time with my team working on our projects. My days are varied but always full; there is never a dull moment.
I LIKE TO TAKE A HANDS-ON APPROACH WITH EVERYTHING I AM INVOLVED WITH. WORKING INSPIRES ME TREMENDOUSLY!
TEMPO: Any future plans that you would like to share with the community?
Sheikha Shamma: There are lots of exciting things on the horizon, so watch this space!
TEMPO: What’s your message to young people?
Sheikha Shamma: Pursue your dreams and never give up – everything is possible for those who try.
READ AS MUCH AS YOU CAN, BOOKS WILL BRING YOU BOTH KNOWLEDGE AND ENJOYMENT.
TEMPO: Finally, what’s your message to those who wish to be potential supporters?
Sheikha Shamma: We all need to work together to make the world a better place for the generations to come.
“Wanna Read?” is always very grateful for donations and the help of volunteers.
We need volunteers for:
- Book Drives – Collecting good quality children’s books.
- Reading – Visiting patients and brightening their day by reading to them.
- Administration – Helping us with general administration and sorting books at our office in Abu Dhabi.
- PR – We need your help if you have experience with the media or in design.
- Artists and Painters – Help us to brighten up a room and make a difference.
We also welcome and encourage support from:
- Schools that can organise sponsored readathons, spellathons and book donation events.
- Publishing Houses that can donate new literature.
- Corporations that can sponsor and decorate a room as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.
- Individuals who can lead fundraising efforts by hosting bake sales, lunches and coffee mornings, or support “Wanna Read?” in sponsored events, for example – running a marathon for the charity