SHARJAH (Staff Report) – In a groundbreaking achievement for an Emirati publishing house, Kalimat Publishing House, a subsidiary of Kalimat Publishing Group, won the Bologna Best Children’s Publisher of the Year 2016 in Asia award.

More than 500 publishers, authors and illustrators of children’s books from around the world were present at the award ceremony, which took place yesterday in Bologna, Italy.

Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and CEO of Kalimat Group, received the prestigious award on behalf of the group, which was won after competing  with 4 international publishing houses from Singapore and Japan.

Photo 2

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi also received the Bologna Ragazzi Award for ‘Lisanak Hisanak’ (‘Tongue Twisters’), which is authored by Fatima Sharafeddine and illustrated by Hanane Kai. The title won in the ‘New Horizons’ category, which is designated for the best text and illustrations in children’s books, after impressing the judges with its creative narrative and engaging artwork.

Speaking about the Best Children’s Publisher of the Year Award, Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi said: “Today, Kalimat Group succeeded in adding yet another achievement to its long list of successes by winning the Best Children’s Publisher of the Year award against strong competition from hundreds of publishing houses across the world. Its success makes Kalimat the first Emirati publisher to receive this renowned global children’s publishing industry award.”

“Ensuring children’s pleasure when they are reading is the main driving force behind Kalimat Group’s strategy to publish high quality books that fire their intellect and imagination. We are committed to providing outstanding content that allows Arab children to read in their mother tongue, as this is crucial to strengthening their Arab identity,” Al Qasimi added.

Photo 1

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi continued: “Today, Kalimat Group is being awarded for its relentless efforts to develop Arabic children’s books, to capture the attention of young Arab audiences, to ignite their passion for life and to give them a greater opportunity to experience the pleasure of reading. I would like to dedicate this achievement to our leadership for paving the way for us to reach the highest level. We also dedicate it to the Emirati community, in particular its youngest members.”

Established in 2007, Kalimat is the first publishing house in the UAE dedicated solely to publishing and distributing high quality Arabic children’s books. With a portfolio of internationally-acclaimed and award-winning authors and illustrators, Kalimat produces an extensive range of books with topics featuring traditional Arabic culture and heritage, many of which focus on the challenges faced by today’s children. Kalimat encourages publishers, authors and illustrators to give their all in order to be the best and in doing so has succeeded in publishing 175 books, many of which are translated into foreign languages.

Books published by Kalimat are characterised by creative designs, remarkable illustrations and innovative content. They engage the reader with a variety of themes from traditional Arab heritage stories to contemporary life stories. The Best Children’s Publisher of the Year Award judges praised the innovative efforts made by Kalimat to produce titles and books in Arabic that are characterised by high literary and artistic standards and which have have proved attractive to a large numbers of children.

For her part, Fatima Sharafeddine expressed her delight that Lisanak Hisanak had won the top prize in the New Horizons category of the Ragazzi Award, especially in light of the fact that a previous work of hers, ‘Do Not Open This Book!’ had been honoured with a special recognition at the fair two years ago. She said that the award would serve as an incentive for Kalimat to continue to develop innovative Arabic children’s books with an emphasis on outstanding content that aims to enrich children’s vocabularies, develop their imagination and expand their knowledge.

Illustrator Hanane Kai thanked Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi for her support and eagerness to place Kalimat Group at the top of the list of local and Arab publishers in terms of developing high quality books that aim to attract children and encourage them to read. Dedicating the award to Emirati and Arab children, she said that the joy of winning had made all the long nights she spent finalising the illustrations for the book extremely worthwhile.

Lisanak Hisanak brings a new take on ‘tongue twisters’ by visually representing the confusion that happens when they are read out aloud, with the artwork forming a witty puzzle for readers to decipher. Comprising a burst of colours and letters, the book’s carefully crafted illustrations play on the meaning of each tongue twister and take readers into a visual world that is as confusing and fun as the verbal one.

In 2014, Kalimat received a Bologna Children’s Book Fair New Horizons Award ‘Honourable Mention’ for ‘Do Not Open This Book!’, written by Fatima Sharafeddine and illustrated by Fereshteh Najafi. Do Not Open This Book aims to inspire children’s feel of curiosity and capture their attention, with its accordion shape and dual-story narrative allowing children to read two stories at the same time.