Emirati author Aisha Abdulla (left) speaking at the ‘Writers and Readers’ session at the 12th edition of SCRF at Expo Centre Sharjah
Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Characters of Arab origin living in foreign countries will increasingly feature in books, writers told the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF).

They were speaking during a ‘Writers and Readers’ session at the 12th edition of SCRF at Expo Centre Sharjah. Author Aisha Bushby — who was born in Bahrain and lived Kuwait, England, Canada and UK — said: “For me, it was very important to showcase both sides of my individual culture and reflect it in my books. I would love to see Arab children represent themselves in books and not have other people represent them. I couldn’t have imagined seeing an Arab kid in an English language book when I was a child. I don’t think it even crossed my mind.”

Finding inspiration

Meanwhile, Emirati author Aisha Abdulla, speaking about connecting with readers through social media versus personally, said: “We can meet anyone on a screen, but meeting face to face is a great feeling, especially children, because they are so honest. When I get a lot of sincere compliments it pushes me to write more and more.

Abdulla, who is also a member of the Emirates Writers Union, added: “I wrote ‘Pocket Full of Stars’ before COVID-19 hit the world, so I got to visit schools and meet children and I cried because I find them so inspirational. I’ve only ever had children get in touch with me who like my books. Never has a child emailed to say they didn’t like my book.”

Beyond Sharjah

SCRF’s Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition is making its way to Dubai for the first time in its nine-year history. The exhibition will be held at Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue from Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm, in Warehouse 45.

The exhibition will display 58 works of illustrators from several nations around the world. The artworks depict a range of artistic styles and techniques. The exhibition features work from Emirati artists including Salem Al Junaibi, Asma Alhosani, Eman AlRaesi and Khalid Al Banna.

Also featured will be international participants from Chile, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, Lithuania, Argentina, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt.

On the sidelines of the exhibition, Emirati illustrator Eman Alraessi will be leading a workshop on how to create and develop characters for children aged seven to 12 years old, on Friday from 5pm to 6.30pm.

The exhibition was conceived by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), which organises SCRF. The exhibition’s ninth edition comprises 395 works by artists from 50 nations, which can be accessed entirely at the exhibition’s main venue at Expo Centre Sharjah.


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