Becoming readers: Our stories

Source of Publication

Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues


Purpose: The paper is part of a larger qualitative study of female Emirati university students' leisure reading habits and the purpose is to investigate the factors that have affected the reading habits of six respondents as they tell how they became avid readers. Design/methodology/approach: Six students, who are very keen readers, were asked to write their stories of how they became readers, starting with their earliest memories of books and reading. Using open and axial coding through constant comparative analysis, the stories were analysed to allow categories and common themes to emerge. Findings: Although each student's reading journey is a very personal, individual one, there are some common factors which have helped the students become the readers they are today. These include parental encouragement at an early age, particularly that of fathers, intervention by teachers who took an active interest in promoting reading, and the continuing effect of peers as they get older. Students' preference for owning the books, they read suggests the permanence of reading in their lives as they often like to reread books they have enjoyed. Unfortunately, studying at an English-medium university has resulted in students reading fewer Arabic books than before. Originality/value: For the first time, the voices of female Emirati freshmen in this paper challenge the myth that Arabs do not read, by showing how positive interventions by parents, educators and peers have helped shape the readers they are today. The paper serves as a reminder to educators to acknowledge the readers our students have become by accommodating and encouraging their extra-curricular reading in both Arabic and English. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Document Type


First Page


Last Page


Publication Date