The 12th iteration of the Sharjah Children's Reading Festival is in full swing, running until Saturday at the Expo Centre Sharjah.
The 11-day event, organised by Sharjah Book Authority, boasts a For Your Imagination theme this year, with prominent names across the region and beyond taking part in panel discussions, workshops and other activities both in person and online.
In total, 27 authors from 15 countries are participating, alongside 172 publishers, and more than 500 activities have been planned, including a series of theatrical shows and workshops, as well as cookery sessions and a literary competition, among others.
Take a look through the photo gallery above to see more from the event.
For the first time this year, the festival has expanded its outreach across other emirates in the UAE. For example, Egyptian novelist Tayeb Adib and Claudia Rueda, a Colombian picture book author and illustrator, hosted a discussion at Dubai's Al Safa Art and Design Library.
Titled Bringing Stories to Life, the session, which was moderated by Dr Lamia Tawfik, explored aspects needed to create memorable characters in children's books, while also incorporating a moral underpinning.
“Vibrant illustrations and relatable characters play a key role in nurturing creativity and imagination," said Adib. "Stories are therefore an important educational tool whose impact is intensified when adapted to the screen as a series or film."
Back in Sharjah, a cultural panel called Non-Fiction Books for Children was hosted by author, illustrator and animator Matt Lamothe, alongside award-winning Omani writer Dr Wafa Al Shamsi, a poet and professor at the UAE University in Al Ain.
"The challenge is to understand how children think, and how much they can process," said Al Shamsi, while describing her methodology in writing a book for children on health issues that affect their grandparents or the elderly.
“Non-fiction books must strive for accuracy and deliver the right information in an interesting manner. What is most important is to inject fun and a sense of humour into the work so children enjoy it.”
On Sunday it was announced, following a directive by Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, that Dh2.5 million has been allocated to buy new titles from Arab and international publishers who are taking part in the festival.
"The allocation of the grant under the directives of the Ruler of Sharjah is an annual reminder of the importance of supporting and ensuring the continued growth of the book and knowledge industries in the UAE and beyond," said Ahmed Al Ameri, chairman of Sharjah Book Authority.
“[The] initiative will have a greater impact this year in light of the challenges faced by both Arab and international book markets due to the coronavirus pandemic, and reflects Sharjah’s vision to nurture the new generation’s talents and foster their cultural awareness.”