Sharjah: The much-anticipated 14th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival is set to commence on May 3 at the Expo Centre Sharjah.
This year’s cultural extravaganza which runs until May 14, will bring together a programme of 512 featured guests hailing from 66 countries, all poised to deliver an impressive 1,658 engaging workshops and sessions as well as showcasing their latest work in the child literary scene.
Themed ‘Train your brain’, the 12-day event, organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), will feature a host of exciting events, including the inaugural Sharjah Animation Conference and the second edition of the Booksellers Conference. Details of the event were unveiled at a press conference on Wednesday at the SBA Headquarters in Sharjah.
Sharjah Animation Conference
SBA will organise the inaugural edition of the Sharjah Animation Conference from May 3 — 5 on the sidelines of SCRF and it will be the first-of-its-kind in the region. The event will be held in partnership with Italy’s Bergamo Animation Days (BAD) festival.
The second edition of the Booksellers Conference, which brings together 383 book distributors, including 223 from 52 countries around the world and 160 from 17 Arab countries, and will showcase their latest offerings in the child literary scene as well as deliberate on the realities of the book distribution ecosystem and exploring opportunities in new markets. Expanding on the hugely successful conference, this year it will also feature seminars and workshops, catering to the booming industry.
Children can shape future
Commenting on the 14th SCRF,Ahmed Bin Rakkad al Ameri, the Chairman of the SBA, said: “In the Emirate of Sharjah, under the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and with the support and guidance of his wife, Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, we chose to invest our efforts in raising awareness of the new generations a top priority, and the foundations of our long-standing cultural project with its local, Arab, and global dimensions.”
He added, “Our first goal and project is to provide children, adolescents, and youth with the tools of sound thinking, and to open the doors of learning, skills acquisition, invention, and innovation for them. We are confident that what they will think will determine our fate and shape our future. That is why the new edition of the festival this year came under the slogan ‘Train your brain’ to complement the ongoing efforts to promote the awareness, knowledge, and skills of our children. We wanted to tell the world that the minds being shaped among us today are the first guarantee for all our aspirations and hopes.”
Mansour Al Hassani, Director of publishers services, SBA, said: “The concordance of the Booksellers conference with the festival presents a renewed occasion to amplify both the Arab and global publishing market. It offers an exceptional prospect for the exchange of direct sales agreements between publishers and book distributors, featuring the participation of distinguished figures, experts, and specialists from the publishing realm.”
Al Hassani also revealed that SCRF 2023 is hosting 141 publishers, including 93 Arab and 48 foreign publishers. The UAE tops the list with 77 publishers, followed by Lebanon with 12 publishers alongside many others. Top participating countries include the UK, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the US, Australia, India, Pakistan, Algeria, and Iraq.
Investing in young minds
Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SCRF, said: “SCRF reflects Sharjah’s commitment to invest in children because they are the ones that will shape the future. Investing in them is an investment in the prosperity and progress of our society, hence, the importance of this event, which we are keen on bolstering as an open space for children to express themselves and instill the love of books in them.”
The General Coordinator also formally announced the inaugural Sharjah Animation Conference taking place on the sidelines of SCRF from the 3rd to the 5th of May as well as giving an overview about the many animation related activities happening over the two-day conference.
Theatrical and artistic performances
The 12-day festival will be home to 1,658 activities, including 946 events led by 25 guests from 10 countries, including a diverse range of workshops for children covering arts, sports, science, and technology. The festival will also host 136 theatre performances, roaming shows, acrobat and music concerts led by 16 guests from 16 countries. The most notable activities include the comedy play Akbar the Great Nahi Rahe, and the children’s show Masaka Kids Africana which again shows the attention to diversity by the festival.
The 14th SCRF will be hosting 68 guests, including artists, writers, and creators from 21 countries, who will lead a diverse range of panel discussions that shed light on some of the most critical issues facing the world today, as well as sessions focused on developing communication skills for children and nurturing their creative and intellectual skills and capabilities.
The popular Cookery Corner returns this edition with over 33 culinary activities presented by twelve renowned chefs from nine countries. The chefs taking part in the 14th edition of SCRF include Ashia Ismail from New Zealand, Priyanka Naik from the US, Uma Raghuraman from India, Ana Ortins from Portugal, Fatina Al Daher, Mrs Balqis, and Widad Zarzour from Lebanon, Asia Othman from Morocco, Yasmin Abu Hassan from Jordan, UAE twins Meitha and Abdulrahman, and Anto Cocagne from Gabon.
Children and youth will have the opportunity to explore the world of comics through more than 323 activities, including workshops, panel discussions, and a series of roaming shows led by 15 creatives from 4 countries. The most prominent activities at the corner include Acro Adventures and Ninja Tests, in addition to workshops and interactive activities showcasing 35 local talents and their works.
Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Award
During the festival, SCRF will also announce the 11th Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Award winners, which received an impressive 1,300 submissions from 280 participants representing 46 countries. 235 works by 85 artists have qualified and will compete for the top spots.
The comprehensive programme and agenda can be found on SCRF’s festival website at http://scrf.ae/ and updates will also be given on their social media platforms.