Book Reading at CAC - The Lion that Dressed as a Sheep ©

Rana El Harouny

Professional Achievement – Dina Elabd 

From: Egypt

Studied: MPhil in Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature

UK institution: University of Cambridge

Dina Elabd created the first English children’s magazine in Egypt and has authored two children’s books, enabling Egyptian children learning English to engage with and reflect on their own culture. 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS CREATING KALEIDOSCOPE MAGAZINE

In the final year of my undergraduate degree, I started Kaleidoscope - Egypt’s first English magazine for children - with the motto ‘Education, Creativity, Interactivity’. Each issue includes short stories, articles, games and more for children aged 8-12. The business quickly grew, and I had over 100 subscribers and 30 schools across Cairo involved. Because of this achievement, I was offered a full scholarship from British Petroleum to study at the University of Cambridge, and then returned to Egypt and published two children’s books in English.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN STUDYING IN THE UK? 

For my subject area,

studying in the UK was critical to my success. The birth place of Shakespeare has the highest regard and respect for quality literature.

The dynamic and multi-cultural environment of the UK allowed me to gain an understanding of how children learn about different cultures and societal issues, through literature. It was an eye-opening experience for me, particularly when I visited schools in England as part of my degree. The experience I had could not have been replicated elsewhere.

HOW DOES YOUR SUCCESS BENEFIT CHILDREN AND TEACHERS IN EGYPT?

In Egypt, there are many private schools where classes are in English, with schools purchasing books and materials from abroad for the curriculum. While this offers an international perspective for the students, the children grow up with a lack of awareness of their own culture. My books remedy that by providing an Egyptian content they can identify with, and reflect on issues and themes in their own culture. The books are now on sale in two bookstore chains in Cairo and are being used in schools in grades 7 and 10. Teachers and students find them useful as a drawing board for discussion and a mirror for reflection.

Further to this, I do community outreach through my work with the Egyptian Board on Books for Young People (EBBY), whose mission is to develop a love of reading and raise the level of reading in Egyptian children. I was recently sponsored to represent Egypt at the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY)’s International Congress in New Zealand, and also presented papers at two conferences in Worchester and Cambridge. Through these experiences I want international audiences to learn about Egyptian children’s literature and the important lessons that can be applied in other countries. 

Dina Elabd is the finalist of the Study UK Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, Egypt 2017.

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