Parents who flocked to the 30th Sharjah International Book Fair yesterday said they still prefer reading books with their children as it strengthens family ties and reinforces learning.
The book fair, organised annually by the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information, offers thousands of children's books and educational toys from 84 publishers from here and abroad. It runs for ten days until November 26.
The competition printed books get from reading materials downloaded from the internet and multimedia is huge. But for Sharon Swartz, a mother of two from South Africa, reading printed books gives her and her children something the internet can not provide.
"Reading e-books or online pages is different from actually reading a book. A child learns using all his senses — touch, hearing, smell, sight and taste. So it really is better for a parent to engage his children in reading books to let them learn and experience the story itself," Swartz, a nursery school teacher, told Gulf News.
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"When you're reading books with your kids, it also serves as a good bonding activity, facilitates learning the language, and boosts the reading ability of the child," Swartz added.
Ahmad Mustafa, a father of three from Ajman, brought all his kids to the book fair to encourage them to read more books.
"I brought all of my children here because I want them to buy the books of their choice," he said.
"Reading books has helped them with their studies and it has definitely improved their knowledge about the world," Mustafa said.
"But there are so many distractions around them so I try to encourage them to read more and bring them to fairs like these."
The fair also offers hundreds of varieties of educational toys. Hazin Al Sharida, owner and publisher of Durar Al Huda-Saudi Arabia, said that educational toys are popular among kids and are in fact their best sellers.
"It's not only books with illustrations that buyers want. People ask for educational toys, in fact they sell more. So we have many kinds [of educational toys] from kids age one to adults age 90," said Al Sharida, who has been participating in fair for 12 years.