The UAE Board on Books for Young people (UAEBBY) is organising the first Conference of the International Board on Books (IBBY) for Young People for the Region of Central Asia and North Africa (CANA) – an international conference dedicated to children’s literature, culture, and books – which will take place at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 21-22 April 2013. Under the theme of “Bringing Books and Children Together”, the conference will bring together children’s book writers, illustrators, publishers, librarians, storytellers, academicians, and other experts in the field of children’s literature from across the region of Central Asia and North Africa (CANA). The two-day conference comes in the context of the of major challenges facing the promotion of children’s books and fostering a culture of reading among children, due to various conflicts, poverty and high rates of illiteracy in CANA region. It will highlight some successful experiences and achievements made by different organisations and individuals in their mission to bring books and children together, as well as the latest developments in children’s literature on both the regional and the international levels. Highlighting the importance of the conference, Marwa Obaid Al Aqroubi, President of UAEBBY Board Members, said, “The conference will offer a valuable platform that brings all those concerned with the children’s literature and book industry from across the CANA Region together for the first time in the Emirate of Sharjah. It offers an unmatched opportunity for a critical review of lessons learned, the identification of challenges, the exchange ideas and experiences, as well as laying the foundation for future gatherings and cooperation. We are extremely pleased that this conference will offer a real opportunity for people and organisations from across the region that, in one way or another, work to bring books and children together.” Al Aqroubi went on to add that the conference mainly aims to enhance the status of children’s literature at present and in the future and seeks to revive and revitalise the region’s long and rich history of literature. “It also aims to encourage writers, illustrators, and publishers to create and produce books that deal with serious topics that blaze new grounds and fulfil children’s intellectual needs, and ultimately help them to achieve their aspirations and look towards the future with confidence,” she added. Al Arqoubi pointed out that the details about the conference would be revealed at a press conference to be held later in this month. The conference will focus on reading promotion and the children’s book industry, with the diversity of books it produces, such as beautiful artistic books, classic stories, and books that meet the needs of children with disabilities, as well as books that edify and books that entertain, books that blaze new grounds, or simply books that speak to children. It also aims to make the best use of the expertise of librarians, animators, and cultural agencies to help promote a reading culture among children regardless of their age, needs, or environment. It will also shed more light on the region’s initiatives to promote reading, especially among the underprivileged sectors, as well as on efforts and current and future approaches in the children’s book publishing sector in the CANA region. The two-day event will feature panel discussions, papers, presentations and networking sessions to come up with suggestions and practical steps for further cooperation and communication at the local, regional and international levels. Supporting the establishment of national sections in countries that are not members of IBBY, especially after the success of the UAE through its Board on Books for Young People, will be among topics to be discussed during the conference. The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) is the national section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), which was established in Switzerland in 1953, and has national sections in 77 countries across the world. The IBBY represents an international network of individuals and organisations that are committed to promoting a culture of reading and bringing books and children together.