Sharjah children's reading fest wows hundreds of kids

Afkar Abdullah /Sharjah Filed on May 21, 2021 | Last updated on May 21, 2021 at 12.08 am
An artist performs at the Sharjah Children's Reading Festival. — Photo by M. Sajjad

Mexican envoy said the festival offers a unique opportunity for the youth to come together in a celebration of knowledge and culture

Hundreds of kids trooped to the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival on the first two days of the event’s 12th edition. On the opening day alone, more than 300 kids were seen prancing around the Expo Centre, all excited about the thousands of books on display, as well as the workshops and shows happening all around.

Now more than ever, amid the pandemic that brought the world to a standstill, children need new opportunities to read, learn, and explore new cultures, making the SCRF the perfect event, a top envoy has said.

Hailing Sharjah’s efforts in nurturing children’s talents, Francisca E. Méndez Escobar, Ambassador of Mexico to the UAE, said the festival offers a unique opportunity for the youth to come together in a celebration of knowledge and culture.

The envoy on Thursday visited the festival, where Mexico is among the participants.

“For Mexico, it is very important to be here because we have a huge young population in our country, and through our experiences we have learnt that we need to offer as a nation and as one world to our children as many opportunities for development as possible, especially in reading,” Escobar said.

As the SCRF’s cultural extravaganza begins, children also got to explore the world of folklores.

Self-taught illustrator and designer Dinara Mirtalipova inspired the youngsters with her folkloric art inspired by the rich traditions of her Uzbek/Russian roots.

“Folk art is art of the people; it is what connects us to our roots,” Mirtalipova said.

She added: “Illustration is silent story telling. When you read aloud a story, it is the illustration that visually connects what a child is hearing to what he/she is seeing. It is important therefore that every culture is represented in the pages of a book.”

The session also hosted Egyptian novelist Tayeb Adib and explored how writers and artists could gain creative inspiration from their respective traditional heritage.

In the era of globalisation, heritage plays a vital role in strengthening one’s identity, said Adib, a popular children’s writer. “Arab writers and artists have traditionally drawn on our ancient heritage of oral storytelling and folkloric culture to create beautiful literary masterpieces.”

“Our folklore is rich and powerful; and it is not just through books but by establishing centres dedicated to folk traditions that we must keep our heritage alive,” he said.

Afkar Abdullah

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