Sharjah: Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), which opens on Wednesday, is a prime literary and cultural extravaganza for children and young adults in the Arab region, says a top official.
Running from Wednesday to April 28 at Expo Centre Sharjah, SCRF 2018 is being held under the theme ‘Your Future … Just a Book Away’, with a line-up of 2,600 cultural and literary events and activities to enrich and entertain all ages.
“The Arab world’s most popular authors and artists are taking part in the 10th edition, organised by the Sharjah Book Authority,” said Ahmad Al Ameri, chairman of Sharjah Book Authority, while speaking to Gulf News ahead of the festival opening.
Al Ameri said that 134 publishers from 18 Arab and foreign countries and 286 authors, poets and literary guests from 121 countries would be taking part in the reading festival.
“As reading has not been an enjoyable task for children, our aim is to try to transform reading into a fun activity they look forward to,” said Al Ameri.
The UAE, he added, declared 2016 as the Year of Reading — a prominent example of how the nation’s wise leadership is making every effort to continue to entice young children to get into reading from an early age to ensure the habit is instilled and stays on with them throughout their life.
“The festival is very important as knowledge and reading are at the heart of Sharjah’s community development goals.”
He said the festival is a reflection of the vision and development aspirations of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of Dr Shaikh Sultan and chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.
He noted that although the UAE has high literacy rate, many countries in the region still lag behind. “Education and literacy are fundamental pillars to ensure a stable and prosperous future for individuals and their countries. Reading is an essential part of that, and being able to make sure it starts of as fun for children will be key in ensuring we secure education and knowledge for their future,” he added.
Highlighting the salient features of the festival, Al Ameri said that a number of authors, storytellers, poets and artists from around the world would talk to students and visitors to encourage them to take more interest in reading and storytelling.
Among the famous authors and illustrators 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’. Another is Miranda Paul, from the United States, who is an award-winning children’s author, and will be talking about how a humorous story can get even the most reluctant reader interested in books.
The festival, he said, is a welcoming, worldwide mix of authors, illustrators, speakers and publishing professionals who have a passion for their work and a desire to help the next generation to develop a love for reading.
Several top international celebrity chefs will be sharing some of their favourite dishes and recipes with visitors, while a series of Arab and foreign theatrical performances that combine education, fun and entertainment will highlight the values of honesty to young visitors.
What: 10th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival
When: April 18 to 28
Where: Expo Centre Sharjah