German artist Sezer Subasi
German artist Sezer Subasi demonstrates the technique of ‘paper marbling’ at SCRF 2019. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The weekend attracted scores of children and their families to workshops, panel discussions and many other activities at the ongoing Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2019).

Visitors to SCRF 2019, which runs until April 27 at Expo Centre Sharjah, have a wide choice of programmes to choose from. The event has gone beyond being a book exhibition.

Around 2,600 activities featuring 198 guests from 56 countries are taking place during this 11-day literary and cultural event dedicated to children and youth.

The festival’s events span several programmes, under the main themes of Kids Activities, Cultural Activities, Comic Station Activities, and Social Media Activities.

At SCRF 2019, awareness about the environment and the need for green systems is being introduced to children through hands-on workshops by India-based start-up Solar Desk.

Monal Kabra, founder of Solar Desk, is teaching young visitors how to power fans and cars with solar energy.

Meanwhile. German artist Sezer Subasi demonstrated the technique of ‘paper marbling’ at an arts workshop at SCRF.

Meanwhile the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) technology platform at SCRF is hosting hundreds of children every day, putting their STEAM knowledge to test in five problem-solving activities.

The weekend also saw Nihal Raj, better known as the little Chef Kicha, don his apron. At the age of four, Kicha launched his YouTube channel KICHATUBE HD. He rose to fame when his Mickey Mouse Mango Ice Cream video was bought by Facebook for $2,000, (Dh7,340) resulting in a huge spike in followers of his channel.

Kicha last made headlines when he was invited at The Ellen Show, in which he along with Ellen DeGeneres, tried his hand at making puttu — a popular south Indian breakfast.

True to its tradition, SCRF 2019 is organising literary discussions. At a panel session titled ‘The fantasy world — superheroes and princesses’, Shannon and Dean Hale — a husband-and-wife writing team behind the graphic novels for young adults — shared their stories.

“I felt small and weak as a child, and generally felt I had no control over my life. Reading those superhero comics, I felt I too could do the things they did. That made all the difference to my life,” said Dean.

Amal Farah, award-winning children’s author and publisher from Egypt, seconded Dean. “Fantasies and superhero books teach not only children but also adults to use their unlimited imagination,” she said.

Shannon raised the point that none of the wonders of the world — be it the pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt that they saw recently, or even the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa — would ever have been built if the imagination of the people who conceived them had not been fired up by fantasies.