This child seems happy exploring the world of knowledge alone.
Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter
As many as 80,000 reading enthusiasts of all ages visited the 11-day reading festival have connected with authors and publishers from 15 countries in a series of both live and virtual interactions. In strict adherence to the UAE’s precautionary measures against COVID-19, curtains came down on the 12th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival at Expo Centre Sharjah.
The 11-day festival was held under the patronage of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohmmed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA). The cultural extravaganza cemented its status as a grand celebration of the emirate’s steadfast commitment to promoting knowledge and reading amongst the young generations.
It was organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) under the theme, ‘For Your Imagination.’
At SCRF 2021, which ran from May 19-29, young readers experienced a diversity of literature and gained new perspectives with the participation of 32 Arab and international authors and 172 publishers from 15 countries. In addition, a host of educational artists and cultural experts led over 500 activities including 385 workshops for children and adolescents.
Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: “SCRF 2021 brought children together in a safe place to explore new worlds, play, learn, interact with their peers and their favourite authors, and develop their talents. This festival is one of Sharjah’s key cultural events organised through the collaborative efforts of numerous entities and individuals dedicated to children’s development, and embodies the vision of His Highness The Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives of his wife, Her Highness Jawaher Al Qasimi to invest in young generations and unlock their talents and hone their capabilities so they are able to grow in tandem with UAE’s social and community development.”
For her part, Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SCRF, said: “The success of the 12th edition of SCRF was reflected in the happy and excited faces of the thousands of children who poured in to explore, engage and learn. In essence, this is the mission of SCRF. From technology and robotics, to art, cookery and writing workshops, in addition to theatrical shows, each of the 537 activities we presented to them ensured they learned new things and became more aware of our local and global cultures.”
Authors from the UAE and across the GCC were joined by leading literary luminaries from the US, Ivory Coast, Japan, Colombia, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and the UK, in cultural discussions that explored themes of folklore, non-fiction, digital art, global cultures, happiness, nature and environment, amongst others. The sessions highlighted ways that reading can inspire children to reflect, think, and reason.
SCRF 2021 also set the stage for a series of theatrical shows, including SBA’s first production titled, Book of Dreams.
Expanding cultural outreach: To the delight of book lovers and reading enthusiasts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah, and in the cities of Dibba Al Hisn and Kalba on Sharjah’s east coast, a selection of SCRF 2021’s cultural and literary activities were brought to select venues across these destinations to facilitate greater access to the world of books and knowledge.
Apart from spirited and lively open discussions on a broad range of topics and personal interactions with authors and artists, young residents in these cities also took part in a series of workshops ranging from Augmented Reality and Scribble Bots to book character development.
Visual medium: Artists and illustrators from 50 countries exhibited 395 works at the Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition, which ran on the sidelines of SCRF, reinforcing the integral role of the visual narrative in storytelling and in enhancing a child’s sense of wonder. A special edition of the exhibition comprising 58 artworks travelled to Dubai’s prestigious Alserkal Avenue to host a special showcase for lovers of art and literature in Dubai.
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