Yas Mall to host children’s literary events

The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority launched the Kalima project nine years ago. Almost a third of its titles are children’s books, which officials say are still in great demand.

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ABU DHABI // A project translating notable works of literature into Arabic is celebrating the publication of its 900th book with a host of activities at Yas Mall this week.

Kalima’s celebrations are part of the Year of Reading initiative.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority launched the project nine years ago. Almost a third of its titles are children’s books, which officials say are still in great demand.

“Kalima was launched to enhance and promote Abu Dhabi as a hub and incubator for culture in the region, and also as a beacon for culture,” said Abdullah Al Ali, acting executive director of the authority’s national library division.

“This project is still hungry for more achievements. So far we have translated 900 books and we are sharing that in celebration of the Year of Reading, which aims to enhance opportunities for reading and knowledge development for all members of society.”

Yas Mall will host daily children’s activities from Thursday to Tuesday next week including story-telling, puppet shows and workshops on how to draw anime characters, make bookmarks, keychains and traditional decorations for notebooks and pencils.

Organisations including the National Archives will host sessions to teach children about UAE identity.

The activities will run from 2pm to 10pm, except for Thursday and Saturday when they will start a little earlier. Kalima’s books will also be available for a discounted rate at Jarir Bookstores.

Fatema Al Tamimi, who oversees children’s programming at the national libraries department, said she hoped the six-day cultural event would encourage families to become involved in their children’s literacy.

“It’s very important that parents start to pay serious attention to reading,” said Ms Al Tamimi.

She said that children had become too distracted by games and technology to the detriment of reading.

“So we want to take this back again. We want to build this culture again and the culture of parents reading for their kids. It starts from home, not school.”

Ms Al Tamimi said she hoped events such as these and initiatives such as the Year of Reading would encourage young Emiratis to pursue a career in children’s literature.

“We need more authors – local authors – and we need to speak more about the culture of the UAE, because most of the books are not about the UAE,” said Ms Al Tamimi. “There are a few but we are looking for more.”

rpennington@thenational.ae