210506 SRF
Sharjah Book Authority Chairman Ahmad Al Ameri addressing a press conference at the authority's headquarters on Wednesday regarding the 13th edition of Sharjah Children's Reading Festival. Image Credit: Faisal Masudi/Gulf News

Sharjah: Visitors will need to register online (for free) before attending events at Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, to be held from May 19 to 29 at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Registration details will be announced soon, festival organiser Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) said during a press conference about the 11-day event on Wednesday. The annual event was not held in 2020 because of the prevailing situation at the time related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Safety first

Supervisors on site will guide children – and grown-ups if needed – regarding precautionary measures for COVID-19, such as social distancing and frequent sterilisation, to ensure a safe and smooth experience, officials said.

Wednesday’s conference, held at SBA headquarters, heard details of the festival, now in its 13th edition. This year, there will be 16 international and 11 Arab authors participating, under the latest festival theme titled ‘For your imagination’.

Who’s coming?

The international authors include, among others, US children’s book writers such as Abby Cooper, Matt Lamothe, Nanette Hefferman, Kevin Sherry, and Ambika Anand. Other names include Misako Rocks (Japan), Claudia Rueda (Columbia), and Zenubia Arsalan (Pakistan).

Books and activities

Besides 169 publishers from 15 countries exhibiting at the venue, there will be 110 workshops in the comics’ section, cooking-related events, 385 children’s workshops, and many plays.

Poetry nights

The line-up includes a poetry contest in three age groups, with a first prize of Dh3,000, second prize of Dh2,000 and third prize of Dh1,000 in each category.

Celebrating children

Wednesday’s conference heard from SBA Chairman Ahmad Al Ameri, who expressed his joy at seeing the progress of children over the past 12 years of the festival. He said: “They are bearers of the festival’s message. They are the ones in whom we see the message of Sharjah and the vision of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.”

‘Learning does not end’

Al Ameri added: “They tell us that the future is more beautiful, that challenges pass and we will overcome them. And learning does not end. So allow me to address the young among us, and everywhere they follow us [on social media]: We missed you in the festival halls and lobbies. The programme of your activities this year is as busy as your dreams. We have prepared for you a session that suits you. We will meet this year to renew with you the work for a great and promising future, discover your talents and energies, and confirm that the recovery of societies starts from their consciousness.”

Warm welcome

The conference also heard from Major General Saif Al Zeri Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police; Mohammad Al Amimi, vice president of business and customer relations at Etisalat; Mohammad Hassan Khalaf, director-general of Sharjah Broadcasting Authority; and Khoula Al Mujaini, general coordinator for Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival.

The festival’s characters Qalam, Nuqtaa, Shuaa and Wahmda were also present to welcome children at the conference, who took part in activities on the sidelines of the event.