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Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival: Kids’ books should celebrate diversity, say authors

Team KT/Sharjah
Filed on May 24, 2021
Photo by M.Sajjad/Khaleej Times

Qadoumi, author of The Birds’ Journey to Mount Qaf, said that by painting a picture of who kids could become, books can provide young girls and boys with role models and inspiration.


Two eminent authors speaking at the 12th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) have shared their dreams of a world where children could discover and develop their identities through books that celebrate shared cultures and differences.

At a cultural discussion titled ‘Happiness Factory’, Swaady Martin, a writer and one of Africa’s most recognised changemakers, and Huda Al Shawwa Qadoumi, an award-winning author from Kuwait, made a call for more stories that reflect the depth and breadth of human diversity.

For children to build up self-confidence and find happiness, what they read is important in defining their future lives as it empowers them to deal with the world as it is, said Martin, author of How the Land of Sorrow Became the Land of Joy.

“In my stories, I particularly focus on cultures who are largely underrepresented in children’s literature. When children of ethnic cultures find themselves within the pages of the books they read, it signals that their lives do matter; and they are valued. Our books must offer insights into the realities of kids in different socio-economic circumstances,” she added.

Qadoumi, author of The Birds’ Journey to Mount Qaf, said that by painting a picture of who kids could become, books can provide young girls and boys with role models and inspiration.

“Today’s children do not need knights and princes or superheroes – young girls, for instance, need to see characters like themselves who can captain a ship, pilot the skies or be an inventor,” she said.

“Children’s literature must also represent marginalised populations and delve into deeper humanitarian topics to give young readers a better understanding of their world.”

Describing SCRF as a “bright example of upholding and celebrating the Arabic language”, the author reinforced the importance of drawing upon the rich material of ancient Arab literature to bring back the stories that are rooted in the culture and heritage of the region.

reporters@khaleejtimes.com





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