Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival
Sharjah – Arab Today
The 2014 Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) will feature almost 100 seminars, discussions, demonstrations, workshops and other cultural activities for adults when it comes to the Expo Centre Sharjah from the 15th-25th April
This wide-ranging Cultural Programme – which is offered in addition to over 875 fun activities for children – is the largest ever put together by the SCRF and reflects the directors’ pledge that this year, in which Sharjah celebrates being named the Capital Of Islamic Culture, should be the year the SCRF reaches the highest fulfillment of its original aim: to delight children while engaging all parts of the community in the Emirate’s thriving cultural scene.
It was 2006 when His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, outlined his vision for a festival to develop and promote children’s culture, skills and talents. Since then the SCRF has grown to become one of the most successful children’s events in the world. This sixth festival involves 124 publishers and 95 authors from 17 countries, and features 3-times as many events and activities as last year’s festival.
The 2014 Cultural Programme includes around 20 illustrator’s workshops, 30 seminars and discussions (half for adults, half for children), 100 spoken presentations and numerous other activities over 11-day. Many seminars are interactive – for example, astronomer Dr Sohan Jheeta teaching participants of all ages about astronomy, telescopes, meteors and sun spots.
Some performances are spectacular – for example, the Serbian Dance Troupe performing gipsy and traditional dances from Serbia, Macedonia and the surrounding area. And some experiences simply defy description – for example, the poet and former world class gymnast Sally Crabtree’s cart wheeling performances and ‘edible poetry’.
A huge range of talks from authors, editors, educators and publishers will cover the full range of current thinking on children’s literature.
A small selection includes American children’s authors Betsy and Ted Lewin, on the importance of the internet; Dr Haydar Waqee Allah and Badriya Al Shamsi, on how popular children’s games shape national personalities; author Fawzia Gilani-Williams, on the sources and influences on storytelling worldwide; author Payal Kapadia, on folklore in the age of the internet; authors Alice McGinty, Sam Hepburn, Andy Stanton and Sabine Choucair, on the importance of laughter, especially to children in marginalised communities; authors Nnedi Okorafor, Cassandra Wye, Ahmed Toson and Ezzat Omar, on science fiction and folklore as they pertain to children’s stories; translators Heba Fahmy and Laura Watkinson on the challenges of translating children’s books; expert Suad Rashid, on children’s stories in Emirati literature; experts Tony De Saulles, Bushra al Shehari and Faraj al Dhafeeri, on modern techniques in children’s bookmaking; Dr Duriya Hijazi, on the awareness of children’s rights; and Dr Hanem Abbas, on the importance of school libraries.
These dozen examples are only a small sample of the range of subjects on the Cultural Programme for the 2014 Sharjah Children’s Book Festival. In between formal events, visitors will have ample opportunity to meet and talk with some of the world’s top writers and academics in the field of children’s literature, to share their insights and to engage in fun activities.
‘We pledge that the sixth Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival will be the largest ever, at all levels,’ said Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Director of Sharjah International Book Fair – of which the SCRF is a part. ‘It will be a milestone in the history of the arts dedicated to children in the Arab world.’
‘This has become an annual opportunity to express Sharjah’s love and appreciation for children everywhere,’ says Hind Lenaid, General Coordinator of the SCRF. ‘We have been keen to diversify this year’s activities and they now include workshops on illustration and calligraphy, a “Cookery Program” for mothers and children and lectures on a wide range of literary, cultural, health and scientific topics.’