The Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival kicked off earlier this week in the United Arab Emirates. The annual festival, with the mission: “to cultivate peoples love for literature by enriching their experience of the written word” has played a major part in the world of literature and promoting a multicultural society. The festival hosts more than 200 different publishing houses, and includes more than 20,000 different titles. VIP of the festival, American author, C J Daugherty spoke exclusively with Arabstoday about her role in the festival and her best selling series of Night School novels. Recognising the importance of literary festivals, Daugherty said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be invited to Sharjah, it should be a really good platform into the Arab world.” Night School has been translated into over 19 different languages with readers from Dubai emailing Daugherty praising the books: “I’d love for it to be translated into more languages,” she effused, “it would be wonderful. I think fiction is very important in educating people about different corners of the world. Literature is such an important tool.” The author added that world fiction helps people to understand different cultures: “when I was young I read Japanese literature, Chinese literature, books from all over the world, you discover culture other than just seeing atrocities on the news. Displaying a real life in a fictionalised version is a great way to open a door to another culture.” On whether the message of her novels can be lost in translation, Daugherty said that the theme of English boarding schools, in her books is something that “resonates” around the world.”Everyone knows of Harry Potter, there’s an element to the whole world that everyone is vaguely familiar with.” The second Night School book was recently released in Britain, Germany and France simultaneously, a feat that took a toll on Daugherty who travelled 1,600 miles on an “exhausting” book signing tour. But, a perk of touring is meeting the fans and getting their feedback something Daugherty admits she is “pretty serious about.” “I really care, I want my books to have universal appeal” she added. Which makes the Sharjah book fair the perfect platform to enter a blossoming middle eastern market.