Emirati author and illustrator Alya Alshamsi speaking during a session at the 36th Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico.

Guadalajara: Speaking at the 36th Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico, Emirati author and illustrator Alya Alshamsi said books “safeguard and support children psychologically and ensure their healthy upbringing.”

Alshamsi explained: “During the pandemic, my child and I used to feel anxious, and I started experimenting with art therapy and drawing activities to lower anxiety levels. I had an idea to implement these techniques into tuition, and my school requested that I make a book to distribute to parents. From that experience, my silent book ‘Night and Day’ was born.”

Picture books

She shared her experiences during a panel discussion titled ‘What Distinguishes our Picture Books in the UAE and Mexico?’, where she shared the stage with Mexican author Erica Olvera. The session was moderated by Mexican author Paulina Delgado.

Alshamsi noted “children’s book industry in the UAE is advancing rapidly, especially in the illustrated children’s book genre. She also pointed the need for parents to instill the habit of reading in their children, explaining: “Children in their early years mimic their parents’ behaviour, including reading.”

Pressing matter

Meanwhile, Olvera said one of the challenges in the development of children’s literature in Mexico is the “lack of large selection of books, especially in public libraries and bookstores.”

She noted the lack of reading habits in Mexico is a pressing matter that is being tackled individually by publishers, authors and intellectuals. She asserted that parents who do not read would result in younger generations not knowing the value of reading either.

Mexican children’s book market is large and includes prominent artists and publishers, she added.