The Malta Independent 26 May 2024, Sunday
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10,000 copies of fairy tales delight schoolchildren as part of National Readathon

Sunday, 14 April 2024, 09:10 Last update: about 2 months ago

More than 10,000 copies of an original fairy tale narrating Malta's environmental degradation are being distributed to all government primary schools as part of this year's National Readathon.

The book, The Land of Fairy Fails, written by Benjamin Portelli, is intended to encourage children to get lost in the world of reading and motivate them to use their powers and talents to protect our planet.


Organised by the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, the Malta Trust Foundation and the National Literacy Agency, the seventh edition of the readathon, with the slogan Any Time, Any Place, is geared to stimulate children's creativity and to share ideas for a greener, healthier environment.

The book, aimed towards children aged seven to 11, follows Wizard Willy as he embarks on a journey to clear the seabed from the plastic suffocating marine life, plant trees for cleaner air and ditch his aero-carmarine for a greener mode of transport - his magic broom - so that we can all see the stars once the traffic smog clears.

The story, penned by Portelli when he was 17, as part of his Systems of Knowledge project, has been translated into Maltese by Martina Oliva. An interactive activity booklet has also been designed for the younger years.

Portelli, who turns 19 later this month, wrote this tale with the hope of making children aware and interested in the concept of environmental responsibility in an engaging way.

"I chose to base the story in classic fairy tales since they served as my own introduction to literature, and evoked my love for reading and writing. Fairy tales also serve the purpose of educating children on morals and values.

"I noticed how in the growing age of technology, many children are losing touch with these kinds of stories, so I wanted to try and get young readers interested in going back to the classics by means of the book.

This ties in with the ethos of the National Readathon. A press event to launch the readathon was organised recently and was attended by Education Minister Clifton Grima, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, chair of both foundations and National Literacy Agency CEO David Muscat.

Coleiro Preca, who hoped the readathon would give wings to children's dreams to explore and expand their horizons, said: "Reading feeds the imagination; it's the key to knowledge. Reading books goes beyond mindless scrolling, helps focus and enables us all to grow."

Dr Grima said  the National Readathon was a fantastic initiative and another way in which, together with the National Literacy Agency's other initiatives, the love for reading among students could be fostered.

"It is our main mission as a ministry to see that education is available to all - all types of education. This is one of my priorities as minister responsible for our children's education. There are several forms of education, and reading is the foundation for a solid education," he said.

The readathon with the mascot Ben il-Ballottra, the weasel is a fast disappearing species in Malta, will continue throughout schools until May. After reading the book, parents and children are invited to send in their feedback on how they can drive the environmental change to [email protected]

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