The announcement of the books shortlisted for the 7th edition of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature was attended by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, on Thursday at the Frankfurt International Book Fair in Germany.
The shortlist winners were announced in the presence of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of the UAE Board on Books for Young People, UAEBBY, Abdulaziz Taryam, CEO Advisor and General Manager in the Northern Emirates at Etisalat, Marwa Obaid Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY Executive Board and a large number of international media representatives, international publishers and visitors to the fair. The winners of the region's premier literary prize for children's literature will be announced during the Sharjah International Book Fair, SIBF, taking place next month.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi emphasised that the Etisalat Award for Children's Literature will carry on with the mission it began seven years ago, to develop Arab children's books by motivating professionals in this sector to release high quality books in terms of both content and design in order to inspire, educate and motivate the next generation of young Arabs to live up to the aspirations of a better future.
"The main goal of the award is to provide outstanding Arab books that can attract children to read, while developing their cognitive abilities. Today, we see publishers, authors and illustrators show ever greater interest in participating in the award, and they are producing high quality titles for children and adolescents." said Sheikha Bodour.
Sheikha Bodour added that this growing interest had resulted in publishing professionals from beyond the Arab world entering the competition. "This is evidenced by entries from the UK and Canada who are participating in the award for the first time, along with 10 Arab countries. The future depends on the development of our children and we know that reading is a fundamental tool, and learned skill, that will improve intellect, garner knowledge and increase the capabilities of our youth. Therefore, we must continue working on development of Arab children's books for the future of our nations."
Abdulaziz Taryam said, "The Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature has contributed positively to the cultural and social change that we aspire to bring about in the Arab world, by enriching the content of children's and young adult's books and increasing their appeal. The award plays a prominent role in encouraging publishers, authors and illustrators to enhance the Arabic children's book library with creative titles, and to provide texts that help unlock the potential of our talented youth. We aim to encourage those working in the children's book industry to show off their skills and allow them the opportunity to hone and develop their talent."
This year's edition saw strong competition between 97 entries in both children's book and young adult categories from 12 Arab countries, namely the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, the UK and Canada, with 62 books in the children's book category and 35 books in the young adult category.
Lebanon is in the lead in terms of shortlisted books nominated to win the award, with five books, followed by Egypt and Palestine with two books, and finally Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, with one book each.
All the shortlisted books are arranged according to the Arabic alphabet. The shortlisted books in the Children's Book of the Year category are: "Me and My Granny" published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, written and illustrated by Ebtihaj Al Harthi, "The Judge's Mule", written by Shafeek Mehdi, illustrated by Taiba Abdullah, and published by Iraqi-based Al Buragh Publisher, "Without a Hat", published by Kuwait-based Seedan Media, written by Latifa Boti and illustrated by Doha Al Khateeb, and "Semsem in Mom's Tummy", written by Fatima Sharafeddine and illustrated by Mai Yakzan, published by Lebanese publisher, Dar Al Saqi.
In the Young Adult Book category, the shortlisted books include: "Exiting the Bubble", published by Egyptian Al Balsam, written by Ibrahim Shalaby, "Jerusalem is My First City", published by Palestine-based Al Zayzafona Develop Child's Culture, written by Mahmoud Shukair, "Tea Party in Cinderella's Palace", written by Arwa Khamis and published by Saudi Arwa Al Arabeia, "Hen of the House that is Gone", written by Hassan Abdullah and published by Lebanese Academia International, and "Yellow Corn Hostel" published by Palestinian Al Dar Alahlia, written by Anas Abu Rahma.