Dr Shaikh Sultan honours one of the winners of the Illustrations awards in the presence of Ahmad Al Ameri. Image Credit: WAM

Sharjah: A colourful world of picture books, artworks and activities welcomed visitors to the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) that opened on Wednesday at Expo Centre Sharjah.

The 10th edition of the annual SCRF, running till April 28, was inaugurated by His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.

Shaikh Sultan, along with senior officials and dignitaries, toured the event and presented awards in various categories, such as best children’s book and illustrator at SCRF.

Upon his arrival to the venue, he was greeted by a group of small girls who presented a performance for him. As always, scores of schoolchildren also visited, browsing the huge selection of books and taking part in activities.

This year’s SCRF is featuring 134 publishing houses from 18 Arab and foreign countries, bringing together 288 guests, including authors, artists and illustrators from 121 countries who will engage in 2,600 cultural events and art activities throughout the 11-day festival.

Last year, 306,000 people visited the festival over its 11-day run.

Despite the rise of digital hand-held devices, children are still reading books, SCRF exhibitors said on Wednesday.

“Yes, there are smartphones, e-books and electronic games now, but I still like to read paper books. I read around five books a year; I like to read about history,” said Ahmad Abdul Rahman, a 15-year-old Egyptian student visiting SCRF.

Besides books, a total of 355 artworks is showcased at the Sharjah Children’s Books Illustrations Exhibition at SCRF. This year, the exhibited works are contributed by 104 illustrators from 32 countries. They include 12 from the UAE, constituting the nation’s largest participation in the exhibition’s history. This is followed by 29 illustrators from other Arab countries and 63 from the rest of the world.

Among the famous authors and illustrators at SCRF is Britain’s Ed Vere, whose ‘Max the Brave’ is a New York Times best-seller and was named one of The Sunday Times’ ‘100 Modern Children’s Classics’. Ed will be talking to students in the session ‘Be Creative’, encouraging them to take more interest in reading and storytelling.

India’s Varun Pruthi, a humanitarian, actor, director and social media star who became well known via his social experiment videos on YouTube — earning 1.7 million subscribers — will hold a speaker session titled ‘Giving Back’.

Miranda Paul from the USA is an award-winning children’s author, who has received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, will be talking about why we all love to laugh and how a humorous story can get even the most reluctant reader interested in books.


• Best illustrator:  Rasa Jansiawiskit, Lithuania 

• Arabic Young Adult Book Award: Dr Ebrahim Shalabi for ‘Wasim Tours’ 

• International Children’s Book Award: Michelle Zilkoski 

• Best Arabic Children’s Book: Nahed Al Shawwa  for ‘One Dream or Two’

• Arabic Young Adult Book Award: Sonia Al Nimr for ‘Thunderbird’

• International Children’s Book Award: Mariam Saqr Al Qasimi for ‘Where the Letters Disappeared?’ 

• Sharjah Children’s Book Award for Visually Impaired Children: Sharjah Police Science Academy 

Details: Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 2018

When: April 18 to 28
Where: Expo Centre Sharjah
Fee: Free admission
Timings: 9am to 8pm; Fridays (4pm to 10pm)
Highlights: 134 publishers; illustrators from 54 countries; 2,600 activities; The Future Machine exhibit; Pop-up books gallery