12th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival ends after connecting 80,000 visitors to books, culture

02:02 PM | 31 May, 2021

SHARJAH - After having connected more than 80,000 reading enthusiasts of all ages with authors and publishers from 15 countries in a series of both live and virtual interactions, and in strict adherence to the UAE’s precautionary measures against COVID-19, curtains came down on the 12th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival on Saturday at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), the 11-day cultural extravaganza cemented its status as a grand celebration of the emirate’s steadfast commitment to promoting knowledge and reading amongst the young generations. 

Organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) under the theme, ‘For Your Imagination’, the 2021 edition of SCRF marked a new chapter in its 12-year history by expanding its reach to cities on the eastern coast of Sharjah and across the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah, as a larger multicultural audience gained access to its selection of wholesome literary programmes and exciting workshops. 

At SCRF 2021, which ran from May 19-29, young readers experienced a diversity of literature and gained new perspectives with the participation of 32 Arab and international authors and 172 publishers from 15 countries. In addition, a host of educational artists and cultural experts led over 500 activities including 385 workshops for children and adolescents.

Success of 12th SCRF reflected in the happy faces of thousands of children  

HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: “SCRF 2021 brought children together in a safe place to explore new worlds, play, learn, interact with their peers and their favourite authors, and develop their talents. This festival is one of Sharjah’s key cultural events organised through the collaborative efforts of numerous entities and individuals dedicated to children’s development, and embodies the vision of His Highness The Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives of his wife, Her Highness Jawaher Al Qasimi to invest in young generations and unlock their talents and hone their capabilities so they are able to grow in tandem with UAE’s social and community development.”

For her part, Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SCRF, said: “The success of the 12th edition of SCRF was reflected in the happy and excited faces of the thousands of children who poured in to explore, engage and learn. In essence, this is the mission of SCRF. From technology and robotics, to art, cookery and writing workshops, in addition to theatrical shows, each of the 537 activities we presented to them ensured they learned new things and became more aware of our local and global cultures.”

“SCRF’s expansion into the other emirates along with the eastern region of Sharjah was another big achievement, and we navigated the challenges of COVID-19 to keep the festival’s visitors safe with the best virtual technologies and strict precautionary measures. We look forward to crossing more milestones with the forthcoming editions of SCRF, as we continue to strengthen our commitment to nurture young generations,” she added.     

Inspiring conversations; a celebration of stories

From meetings with the authors to stimulating discussions and debates touching upon several genres of literature, and a variety of workshops encompassing comics, arts, science, and the craft of writing, the 2021 edition of SCRF addressed a variety of themes to nurture the imagination and inspire creativity amongst children and youth of all ages. 

Authors from the UAE and across the GCC were joined by leading literary luminaries from the US, Ivory Coast, Japan, Colombia, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and the UK, in cultural discussions that explored themes of folklore, non-fiction, digital art, global cultures, happiness, nature and environment, amongst others, and highlighted ways that reading can inspire children to reflect, think, and reason.

SCRF 2021 also set the stage for a series of theatrical shows, including SBA's first production titled, Book of Dreams. 

Expanding cultural outreach

To the delight of book lovers and reading enthusiasts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah, and in the cities of Dibba Al Hisn and Kalba on Sharjah’s east coast, a selection of SCRF 2021’s cultural and literary activities were brought to select venues across these destinations to facilitate greater access to the world of books and knowledge.

Apart from spirited and lively open discussions on a broad range of topics and personal interactions with authors and artists, young residents in these cities also took part in a series of workshops ranging from Augmented Reality and Scribble Bots to book character development.

Exploring the vibrant landscape of the visual medium

Artists and illustrators from 50 countries exhibited 395 works at the Sharjah Children's Book Illustration Exhibition, which ran on the sidelines of SCRF, reinforcing the integral role of the visual narrative in storytelling and in enhancing a child’s sense of wonder. A special edition of the exhibition comprising 58 artworks travelled to Dubai’s prestigious Alserkal Avenue to host a special showcase for lovers of art and literature in Dubai.  

110 specialised workshops exploring the exciting medium of comics and graphic novels were delivered in an in-person format for fans of comic books, anime enthusiasts, as well as budding artists and illustrators, at the specially dedicated Comics Corner. 

The Festival is supported by a host of sponsors and partners including Etisalat (official sponsor), Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (official media partner), and Expo Centre Sharjah (strategic partner).

Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival is one of the most important cultural events dedicated to children and young people in the UAE and the region. Hosting leading child organizations and centers, it became an integrated event that inspires not only children but extends the joy of reading to all visitors in the fields of science and literature.