Sharjah Children's Reading Festival
Nearly 140,000 visitors, including nearly 50,000 students, visited the sixth edition of the Sharjah Children's Reading Festival. This marks a 35 per cent increase from the number of visitors who visited last year. The festival hosted children's book
authors, artists, academics, intellectuals, publishers, illustrators as well as performers, storytellers and educators.
Over the 11 days, more than 1,690 workshops were held that taught children a wide variety of skills from creating their own puppets, to calligraphy to chess to understanding their rights.
The final day of the festival saw two panel discussions, one on the cultural challenge of raising a child and another on bookmaking.
In the first panel, the speakers discussed the threats that can interfere and potentially corrupt a child's identity, such as cultural invasion and whether the development of a nation affects a growing child.
The second panel discussed the move from traditional paper publications to eBooks.
Chaired by Asma Alzaroni, a pioneer for children's literature in the UAE, the discussion brought forth some interesting points about the direction the children's book publishing industry is heading, from both an educational and a leisurely standpoint.
Publishers hailing from all over the world showcased their latest books for the young ones during the festival. Speaking about the festival, Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Director of the Sharjah International Book Fair, said, "We expect that next year, a more selective group of publishers will be displaying their books. Our selection is always based on the quality presented and we aim to showcase the best publishers in the Arab world.” He added that the festival aims to be on par with international standards for children's festival. Al Ameri added that book purchase deals worth Dhs5 million were made during the festival.
During the festival, workshops were conducted in collaboration with 14 governmental entities such as the Department of Culture and Information in Sharjah, the Sharjah Museums Department, Sharjah Educational Zone, Sharjah Police, Sharjah Chess Cultural Club, the Department of Social Services-Sharjah, and the Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan Foundation in Al Ain.
Children who visited the festival were spoilt for choice. The workshops were designed to impart vital social values to children, develop their talents and artistic, mental and sports skills, and encourage them to take up productive hobbies.
A dress up corner and a caricaturist section were also popular amongst the young ones. In one part of the festival, children and parents were taught the importance of nutrition, underlying the belief that a healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand.
That belief was highlighted through a successful cookery corner in which international and Arab chefs demonstrated to visitors how to prepare healthy dishes and how to involve children in their preparation.
The Social Media Café introduced daily seminars with renowned authors and experts in the field. Also, for the first time, the Creative Youth Café allowed the youngsters to express their opinion and to discuss matters that concern them with regard to reading and literature.
All sessions during the Creative Youth Café' were moderated by the children themselves.
Also held during the festival was the Third Sharjah Exhibition for Children's Book Illustrators, which showcased the works of 96 illustrators from around the world.
Awards for the best illustrators were presented on the first day by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. Illustrator workshops involved children and allowed them to explore their artistic creativity.
Folklore, songs, games, media and other matters that concern the book industry and the emotional and intellectual development of children were the focus of daily seminars that were held during the festival.
On the side-lines of the festival and continuing till May 15, was the international exhibition 1001 Inventions. The exhibition was brought to Sharjah on the occasion of its selection as Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014.
When visiting the exhibition, children and their parents are introduced to the golden ages of Muslim civilisation and the great inventions of Muslim scientists that formed the basis of modern technological industry as we know it today.
Source: The Gulf Today