How can you teach children about the UAE through reading?

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When they moved to Abu Dhabi, Samantha Wyatt and Brenda Bell Davis realised that when it came to teaching little ones about our city, there wasn’t much around.

Inspired by the challenge, the pair set out to create their own book, Ava’s Adventures Abroad: Abu Dhabi to help their own children adjust to life in a new place. Over a nice cup of tea, the pair talked to us about discovering culture, exploring the city and new horizons.

What was the idea behind Ava’s Adventures Abroad: Abu Dhabi?

Samantha: We’re expats, so helping our kids understand the city that we live in is really important to us. We started looking around for books about the area, and there’s some out there, but none specifically about Abu Dhabi.

We also struggled with sharing what Abu Dhabi is like with our friends and family. People have this misunderstanding about Abu Dhabi, so the book helps them see that it’s not just a desert with camels – it’s a vibrant city.

So how does the book introduce Abu Dhabi’s unique culture to children?

Brenda: The way we introduce it is with Ava, our main character, who is taking a tour of Abu Dhabi. She goes to see the Mangroves, Qasr Al Hosn and the Grand Mosque with a camel as her guide. We wanted to include nuances of Abu Dhabi, like the saluki, the fortress, the camel, the mangroves, the Grand Mosque. We explore each site and find out how beautiful it all is. There’s even a camel race against a saluki across the Sheikh Zayed bridge!

Samantha: One of the underlying themes for the story is that the true beauty of Abu Dhabi isn’t in the stereotypes that you initially see; it’s what it has to offer.

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Your book aims to inspire children to explore. How does the book help them connect to their local neighbourhood and beyond?

Samantha: It helps them visually put it into perspective, so that when they do see it, it feels like something familiar. It’s also about teaching children not to be afraid to be adventurous.

Brenda: For my two-and-a-half year old, Ava, it was building on where I had taken her in the city, so she connects the places in the book with those in real life.

I love to travel and explore, and as Ava gets older, she won’t be afraid to explore. I want her to be comfortable with trying new foods, seeing new places and meeting new people. I want her to see what’s out there.

You can get hold of Ava’s Adventures Abroad at Nest for Kids, Abu Dhabi Mall. For more information, visit: lepetitnomads.com

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