Muscat – The award ceremony for the 16th Dar al Atta’a Let’s Read Children’s Writing Contest took place on Saturday. The event took place at the Let’s Read Bookstore and Charitable Library at Oman Avenues Shopping Center.
This year, children aged 8 to 18 were invited to write an essay, in English or Arabic, on friendship. The competition was held in three age categories – 8-11, 12-15 and 16-18.
Jane Jaffer, president and founder of Let’s Read, said: “I believe in friends holding up a mirror so that we can see each other in a more positive light.”
Quoting the French novelist Marcel Proust, she said: “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; it is the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom.
According to Jane, the theme prompted many participants to write about their classmates; some also wrote essays on parents as friends.
Ward Rami Ali Abudayyeh, a 15-year-old student from Al Injaz Private School, who won first place in the 12-15 age category, wrote an essay to his 6th grade classmate from whom he was separated after have changed schools. “Although we are no longer in the same class, I have incredible memories of our friendship,” he said.
Amna Nadeem, a student of Hay al Sharooq International School, Sur, won third place in the 8-11 category. “I wrote about my cousin because she is the ‘best’ friend I have. She is also very nice and she makes serious things fun. She always helps me when I’m in trouble, for example if I fall while playing.
Sajad Alani, a 17-year-old student from Al Injaz Private School who won second place in the 16-18 age category, wrote about a classmate who helped him catch up in school. “When I’m away from school, he takes extra notes for me. He comes straight from school to my house and sometimes even writes notes in my books”.
Sajad described his friend as having a “great effect on him”.
He wrote about his experiences and feelings about his friend in a 500 word essay. “But I think even 5,000 words are not enough to express his true friendship.”
Al Jouri al Qartoobi, a 13-year-old student at the Omar bin al Khattab Institute for the Blind, received a special award for her essay written in Braille. His teacher translated it into Arabic to submit it to the writing competition. She wrote about her classmate and friend who is partially blind.
The nine contest judges had the difficult task of evaluating the hundreds of entries received for the contest. Mila Gabruck, one of the judges, said: “These entries, written by children and teenagers, reveal a complex world where friends are celebrated and given emotional support. They laugh together and share positive experiences. But these essays also reveal loneliness, longing and sadness.
Another judge, Elizabeth al Sarhani, noted and praised the fact that there were more entries written in Arabic this year.
“The writers showed how it is possible to have a meaningful friendship, whether it’s with a parent, family member, classmate, or pet,” Elizabeth said.