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Visitors at the 12th edition of Sharjah Children's Reading Festival in Sharjah Expo Centre. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Sharjah: Children won’t read if books are not made enjoyable through humour, illustrations or other elements, authors told the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF).

During a session titled ‘Inspirational Books’, held under SCRF’s Cultural Forum at Expo Centre Sharjah, leading writers said children will leave books halfway if attractive elements are missing. Jordanian author Fida Al Zamr said: “An inspirational book is one that excites and ignites the mind of a child. The author must take into consideration the age of a child and endeavour to tap into the power of images to deliver messages because illustrations sometimes speak better than words. Most importantly, the book should have attractive characters.”

‘Don’t preach, use humour’

Stressing on the need for parents to pick books with a sense of humour and charismatic protagonists to keep children hooked, Al Zamr warned parents in attendance that “if a child isn’t enjoying a book they will simply leave it midway. As authors we should abstain from direct preaching. Instead, we should inject our educational messages through small doses of humour”.

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Themed ‘For Your Imagination’, SCRF runs daily from 4pm to 10pm (10am to 8pm on Saturdays) until May 29. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Use relatable characters

Dubai-based Pakistani writer Zenubia Arsalan narrated her personal experience about why she decided to put pen to paper when she noticed a dearth of books to reads to her children. “When I grew up reading the books I read, I did not identify with any of the characters. They were quite far removed from my life. Today we live in a well-connected global world, we eat different cuisines and know about countries such as Mexico, Sweden, Korea through their food. If our food represents the world we live in, why don’t our books?” she said.

About SCRF

Themed ‘For Your Imagination’, SCRF runs daily from 4pm to 10pm (10am to 8pm on Saturdays) until May 29 at Expo Centre Sharjah. Visitors need to register online or at the venue to enter as per the event’s strict COVID-19 health and safety measures.

Along with 16 authors from the Arab region, 16 international authors are also taking part in the 11-day event that has 537 activities.

Young app-makers

Also at SCRF, a workshop tailored specifically to teach participants how they can develop a mobile app was held in the Social Media Café.

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‘It’s not rocket science’

Mohammad Sinan, technical head at Junkbot, which conducted the workshop, said: “Many people think that developing an app is rocket science. But by exposing kids to this technology and terminology from a young age we are hoping it will create an interest which they can tap into in future. SCRF is a great platform for kids to experience all the latest technology that is there in the world.”

What children learned

Participants attending the hands-on session were introduced to the basic concepts behind creating mobile applications and given an overview of the types of apps available in the market — both single and multi-screen applications. At the end of the session, participants were able to create Input Forms, such as the Email Forms seen on most apps these days.