Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival: Cultural extravaganza goes beyond the emirate

Afkar Abdullah /Sharjah Filed on May 19, 2021
Photo by M.Sajjad/Khaleej Times

Authors will stimulate discussions and debates and touch upon several genres of literature.

For the first time in its 12-year history, the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF)is expanding its literary showcase and cultural extravaganza beyond the emirate.

A number of talks and meet-and-greet sessions with famous authors will be held in Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, and in the cities of Kalba and Dibba Al Hisn on Sharjah’s east coast.

His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the 12th edition of the festival on Wednesday at Expo Centre Sharjah, its main venue.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Khawla Al Mujaini, general coordinator of the SCRF cultural programmes, said they wanted to bring the SCRF’s literary wonderland closer to people’s homes — so they decided to hold some of the events and meet-and-greet sessions in different parts of the country.

“An elite group of writers, artists, and other experts will participate in on-ground and virtual sessions from May 19 to 29,” Al Mujaini said.

Covering a variety of themes that spark the youth’s imagination and inspire creativity, authors will stimulate discussions and debates and touch upon several genres of literature, she added.

At the main venue, Expo Centre Sharjah, visitors will learn comic writing secrets from Egyptian artist Ahmed Ameen. Dinara Mirtalipova, a self-taught illustrator and designer from Uzbekistan, and Eltayeb Adib, will helm a discussion on ‘The Power of Folklore’ to offer insights into how this creative field inspires and influences writing and the arts.

In a session titled ‘Children’s Book and New Challenges’, Dr. Elyazia Khalifa, the founder of Al Falak for Translation and Publishing, and Emirati writer Fatima Al Mazrouei will discuss the many challenges facing the production and circulation of children’s books.

Another session will see Jordanian author Fida Al Zamr and Pakistan’s Zenubia Arsalan lead a discussion on how to develop content for inspirational books that promote thinking, learning, and creativity in children.

Those who will be coming to the Dibba Al Hisn programme of the SCRF will get to meet author Dr Hussein Ali Haref for a spirited discussion on a broad range of topics, while in Kalba, students and children can interact with authors Kevin Sherry and Dinara Mirtalipova in separate sessions.

Al Safa Art and Design Library in Dubai will host four interactive SCRF sessions for the first time this year. In a discussion on ‘Bringing Stories to Life’, Claudia Rueda and Eltayeb Adib will explore the intriguing role of unique characters in enabling authors to tell their stories.

Award-winning illustrator Matt Lamothe and Emirati Aysha Al Hemrani will demystify the process of creating digital illustrations in children’s books in the session titled ‘Digital Illustrations’ while in ‘Stories and Pictures’, authors Claudia Rueda and Saudi Arabia’s Faraj Al Dhufairi will shed light on the special skills required for writing picture books.

Greenfeet Guides founder and author Ambika Anand Prokop and Emirati novelist Fatima Al Mazrouei will explore the meaningful ways in which writing introduces children to foreign culture in a session titled, ‘Cultural Sustainability’, and delve into how books expand the cultural and environmental consciousness of children.

In Fujairah, Jordanian author Fida Al Zamr and South Africa’s well-known changemaker and author Swaady Martin will hold separate discussions with young students to offer insights on the writing process.

Ras Al Khaimah will host two meet-the-author sessions for students, featuring Eltayeb Adib and Saudi Arabia’s Faraj Al Dhufairi.

The 11-day festival is packed with more than 500 events, activities, workshops and shows for the kids and the kids at heart. There will be puppetry, storytelling sessions, meet-and-greet with famous authors, as well as arts and crafts and cooking shows — in addition to the thousands of books for the youngsters.

Plan your SCRF visit

>Main venue: Expo Centre Sharjah

>Opening hours: 4pm to 10pm daily (except Saturdays when it will open from 10am to 8pm)

>Face mask is mandatory

Afkar Abdullah

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