Dar al Atta’a launched the book My Favourite Place in Oman recently. The book is a collection of essays written by children in the age group of 8 to 18 years on their favourite place in Oman.
The essays were invited as part of a competition by Dar al Atta’a’s Let’s Read initiative. The programme received more than 600 entries from 29 schools across the country. Sixteen judges spent weeks reading, conferring and assessing the essays.
“The children gave directions to different locations and described Oman’s glorious coastlines and beaches. They wrote about dolphin watching and ocean adventures. Others described exciting visits to the turtle nesting sites, and hikes to lush wadis and palm groves. Some had slept under star-filled skies in the desert and enjoyed camel riding and sand surfing.
“There were entries about spiritual visits to peaceful mosques. Others wrote about amusement parks, interesting museums and musical entertainment in the magnificent Royal Opera House Muscat. It was touching to read entries from children who had written with great pride about their hometowns,” said Jane Jaffer, chairperson, Let’s Read programme.”
She added, “The judges were impressed by vivid descriptions of colourful, frankincense filled souqs, historical details about ancient forts and relaxing fun days spent at hots springs, sinkholes and gorges. They were delighted to read of the fantastic activities the children pursued in the cool mountainous regions of Jebel Akhdar and Jebel Shams.”
Radhieka Peeris Yapa, one of the judges commented on the experience of assessing the entries saying, “The standard of the writing and constructed narratives was not only heartening to behold but posed a difficult task (for the judges) to narrow down the few stories you are about to bring to life. Each was a unique voice written in beautiful prose, while all could easily have been included in this compilation, the stories here are the ones that showed the best presentation and helps highlight the creative talent present in Oman today.
“It was a pleasure to read these entries with many destinations being off the beaten track. This added a depth and a permeable entry point to unique perspectives into the way children relate to and connect to their surroundings.”
Jane also thanked the judges who shortlisted the essays for the book.
“We thank the many judges who gave up their time to read hundreds of entries: Nalini Subramanian, Rithu Mehta, Hebah Bassam, Majda Said al Hinai, Maythaa Khalfan al Madhari, Alison Johnston al Maskari, Shailaja Padmanabhan, Karen MacFarlane, Ruchi George, Ratna Chandrsekhar, Radhieka, Kim Restucci, Sandhya Mehta, Margaret Macki and Cathy al Delamie.”
The book also features works of some artists and photographers such as Anna Dudchenko, Rajesh Venkiteswaran, Karen MacFarlane and Yas al Delamie,
“I am grateful to the Ministry of Tourism for checking the content and providing us with beautiful photographs and to Anne Malin for providing us with the detailed map of Oman. The book highlights many wonderful places in Oman and encourages children to read about them and, hopefully, visit them too,” said Jane.
With such annual essay writing competitions, Let’s Read encourages children to not only be creative storytellers but also to reflect on their own experiences and help others to see the world in new ways.
All proceeds of sales from the book will go towards Maktabati, Oman’s first mobile library.
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