A MOTHER-SON DUO’S CAM­PAIGN TO EN­COUR­AGE READ­ING:

Society Magazine - - Contents -

Qatar-based ex­pat mother Chris­tine Smith and her son Ethan are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence with a fea­si­ble cam­paign - aimed at pro­mot­ing read­ing habit and help­ing the fight against can­cer.

Words are pro­found. Words can be used to build or they can be used to break down and de­stroy. The mes­sage Chris­tine Smith, an ex­pat who has been liv­ing in Doha for the past six years, try­ing to pro­mul­gate, is that words are pow­er­ful. She seeks to spread the mes­sage that the best way to har­ness this power is by pick­ing up a book, a mag­a­zine or a news­pa­per. “How else can one find words if not by read­ing them,” Chris­tine asks.

She is hop­ing to use her web­site, Mo­du­largold.com as a plat­form to en­cour­age read­ing, writ­ing and giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity.

The web­site fea­tures book re­views by Chris­tine and her eight-year-old son Ethan. The re­views fea­ture books for all ages, dis­cuss the dif­fer­ent gen­res avail­able in Doha and also fea­ture posts on how to keep up with read­ing, even with the hec­tic sched­ule of most peo­ple in Qatar.

At a young age, Chris­tine loved read­ing and her mother would of­ten tell her that even when she was but a lit­tle child, at about three years of age, she would read the let­ters on sign­posts and sign boards – S-T-O-P was one of her favourites. How­ever, she never stopped- read­ing that is, dis­cov­er­ing books from a young age helped with her vo­cab­u­lary and her con­fi­dence. She was able to con­verse with adults who were of­ten amazed by how much she knew or the “re­ally big words” she bandied about.

She dis­cov­ered clas­sics like Hans Chris­tian An­der­son’s the Princess and the Pea which ex­plained any days of trou­bled sleep- “Aha!” She thought, “I must be a princess and there must be sev­eral peas un­der­neath the mat­tress.” Jonathan Swift’s Gul­liver’s trav­els - which made her won­der if there was re­ally a world out there with lit­tle peo­ple cap­tur­ing giants and Charles Dick­ens’s Great Ex­pec­ta­tions, which gave her a strong so­cial con­science and thought her that com­pas­sion, loy­alty and kind­ness are of much greater value than any so­cial ad­vance­ment or wealth.

Read­ing Daniel De­foe’s Robin­son Cru­soe made her think about em­bark­ing on jour­neys, seek­ing ad­ven­tures across oceans and con­ti­nents and from Char­lotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, she learnt that some­times in life, things aren’t al­ways what they seem and end­ings might be bit­ter­sweet.

“Read­ing is a learned abil­ity unique to hu­mans. For the development of the skill of read­ing, re­search shows that mul­ti­ple re­gions of the brains are used. Var­i­ous func­tional imag­ing stud­ies have iden­ti­fied the left hemi­sphere frontal, tem­po­ral and pari­etal re­gions are ini­ti­ated dur­ing read­ing tasks. Skilled read­ing re­lies upon the in­te­gra­tion of all these brain re­gions, and the more one reads, the greater the com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween these re­gions. This also of­ten leads to the strength­en­ing of brain func­tion over time,” Chris­tine says.

Learn­ing to read is a devel­op­men­tal process. Progress in this process is usu­ally in par­al­lel to the development of mul­ti­ple cog­ni­tive and lin­guis­tic skills, in­clud­ing flu­ency, ac­cu­racy, and pho­netic aware­ness. These skills be­gin to de­velop and even­tu­ally lead to flu­ent read­ing. As one con­tin­ues to learn, the skills are re­fined and it is safe to say that learn­ing to read and con­tin­u­ous read­ing is most likely a def­i­nite en­abler of brain mat­u­ra­tion.

Qatar-based ex­pat mother chris­tine smith and her son Ethan are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence with a fea­si­ble cam­paign aimed at pro­mot­ing read­ing habit and help­ing the fight against can­cer

Renowned au­thor Wil­liam Ni­chol­son once said, “We read to know that we are not alone.” This sen­ti­ment ex­presses that read­ing helps us con­nect with the world and feel less iso­lated. In an elec­tronic de­vice rid­den world, where face to face com­mu­ni­ca­tion with each other is slowly be­com­ing ob­so­lete, a lot of peo­ple are in­creas­ingly feel­ing and be­com­ing iso­lated. Anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion are com­mon in our com­mu­nity to­day. This is es­pe­cially true in com­mu­ni­ties like Qatar where there are ex­pa­tri­ates who have of­ten re­lo­cated be­cause of a job, and have left be­hind fam­ily and friends in their home coun­tries. In some parts of the world, doc­tors have been known to pre­scribe books to pa­tients with de­pres­sion, hop­ing that read­ing will help them find con­nec­tions. Books can help in­di­vid­u­als through dif­fi­cult times.

Some books made a great im­pact in Chris­tine’s life and were great com­pan­ions dur­ing dif­fi­cult times. One of such dif­fi­cult times was the death of her fa­ther at a very young age. He was stricken with can­cer and she al­ways hoped he would re­cover. When he suc­cumbed to the dis­ease, the hurt was in­de­scrib­able. She wished for one last time to use her words, to tell him some words that would soothe his pain.

She buried her head in books and started writ­ing, po­ems, words she wished she could say to her fa­ther. Chris­tine of­ten says “words saved her from a deeply in­sid­i­ous spi­ral into the abyss of de­pres­sion and re­gret.”

Chris­tine pledged to al­ways give back to the so­ci­ety and com­mu­nity. Nowa­days, Chris­tine and her son Ethan are pro­mot­ing a cam­paign called the Read8; Give8; Mo­dul8 cam­paign. The loss from can­cer which had al­most de­stroyed her and the books which helped her, have served as an in­spi­ra­tion for the com­mu­nity-fo­cused cam­paign. To­gether, mother and son came up with a fea­si­ble cam­paign aimed at pro­mot­ing read­ing and help­ing the fight against can­cer.

SPOT­LIGHTQatar-based ex­pat mother Chris­tine Smith and her son Ethan are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence with a fea­si­ble cam­paign - aimed at pro­mot­ing read­ing habit and help­ing the fight against can­cer.

Some books made a great im­pact in Chris­tine’s life and were great com­pan­ions dur­ing her dif­fi­cult times.

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