Inspiring Interactive Workshops from ‘Read, Dream, Create’ At Sharjah International Book Fair

The ‘Read, Dream, Create’ campaign, an initiative of the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), has hosted a series of highly creative activities for young book lovers at the 36th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), ranging from silhouette shows to miniature book- and puppet-making sessions.

Held at the UAEBBY pavillion, the ‘Miniature Book’ workshop catered to younger children in the evenings and school students in the mornings. It showed the participants how to design and create a miniature book to write their stories. They also learned how to bring a paper puppet to life and create a backlit puppet theatre production.

The interactive ‘Paper Characters’ workshop focussed mainly on writing and drawing, where the children cut out shapes of birds and animated them to give the impression that they were flying, as part of a story telling exercise. The workshop was attended by students from the ‘Awladouna Centre for People with Disabilities’.

Meera Al Naqbi, Manager of the ‘Read, Dream, Create’ campaign, said: “We took part in SIBF as part of our commitment to support cultural events, bringing together children and young people and helping them to develop and hone their talents.”

At the ‘Young Story Teller’ workshop, the children told their favourite tales, while in costumes and in character, showing great talent and confidence in making speeches, putting the workshop theory into practice.

Launched in 2013 by the UAEBBY, ‘Read, Dream, Create’ aims to bring children and books together and promote the importance of reading among Emirati communities. It also encourages children and young people to read, innovate and create, develop their writing skills and transform their ideas into engaging, well written stories.


Attached photos during “Read, Dream, Create” activities for the Sharjah International Book fair 2017 kids in the UAEBBY pavilion participated at the fair.

‘Books – Made in UAE’ Inspires 10 Emirati Authors to Write 18 Heritage-themed Stories for Children

The ‘Books – Made in UAE’ project, organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, has inspired 10 Emirati authors to rewrite a number of folk tales for children.

The 18 heritage-themed stories mark the conclusion of the second phase of the sixth edition of the programme, which was held November 4-6 at Maraya Art Centre. The various editions of the initiative support the development of a sustainable local children’s book industry by training young and aspiring authors and illustrators in the creative process of producing Emirati children’s books.

This year’s edition of the ‘Books – Made in UAE’ project focused on folk tales, with the aim of reviving Emirati folk tales and highlighting the UAE’s rich heritage and authentic customs. The first phase of the sixth edition, sponsored by Knowledge without Borders, a Sharjah-based cultural initiative, was hosted at Sharjah Institute for Heritage.

The authors put together a collection of 18 stories inspired by Emirati folklore under the supervision of well-known German children’s book author and illustrator Ute Krause, who worked with them to develop their writing skills. Krause mentored the ten authors during a workshop that was conducted to help them bring their stories to life in a creative and imaginative way.

Krause also met with Emirati illustrator Abdullah Al Sharhan at a separate workshop on November 8-9, where they discussed ideas for illustrations for the folk tale collection. The writers drew on Al Sharhan’s vast experience to ensure the integrity of the content and illustrations so as to capture the attention of young readers.

Prior to the workshops, reading sessions involving the stories were conducted at the UAEBBY pavilion at Sharjah International Book Fair on November 6. The sessions saw the writers gaining feedback from the children and making necessary amendments before finalising them and offering them to publishers.

The stories will be revealed during Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2018. UAEBBY and the Goethe-Institut will monitor the process of presenting the folk tales collection to local and Arab publishing houses to facilitate their productions and publishings.

The ‘Books – Made in UAE’ project was launched in 2011 to encourage young talented Emirati writers and illustrators to develop their skills in writing and illustrating children’s books, with the organisers dedicated to promoting the titles in the UAE and beyond. The project inspires authors and artists to produce books that reflect Emirati cultural values and national identity through valued content that captivates children and stimulates their imagination.


About the UAEBBY:
The UAEBBY is the national branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). It was established in 2010 upon an initiative by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of the UAEBBY, to encourage the publishing and distribution of high quality Arabic children’s books. The UAEBBY aims to provide promising and professional authors, illustrators and publishers in the UAE with opportunities for communication and exchange of expertise and capacity building. Established in Switzerland in 1953, IBBY represents an international network of organisations and individuals from all over the world who are committed to encouraging the culture of reading and bringing children and books closer.

Attached photos:
1- During the reading sessions that were organised by the “Books – Made in UAE” project at the UAEBBY pavilion at SIBF 2017.

2-3 Krause met with Emirati illustrator Abdullah Al Sharhan at a workshop, where they discussed ideas for illustrations for the folk tale collection.

Emirati Authors Tell Book Fair Audience Folklore is a Challenge to Write but Essential to Read

Three Emirati authors spoke about their desires to maintain the heritage of traditional storytelling and some of the challenges they faced while trying to produce it to an audience at Sharjah International Book Fair, which is taking place at Expo Centre Sharjah until 11 November.

The authors participated in a four-day workshop in April this year aimed at reviving the art of traditional folk tales in book form, marking the sixth annual edition of UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and Goethe-Institut Gulf Region cultural collaboration, ‘Books – Made in UAE’.

Following the workshop, the participants were tasked with writing their own folk story in a way which would appeal to children and at the same time help them to explore and encourage greater interest in their heritage.

The panel of Ameera bin Kadra, Maitha Al Khayyat and Alya Al Shamsi was presided over by German author and illustrator Ute Krause, who also conducted the workshop
and has written 22 picture and children’s books and illustrated around 400 books for young readers.

She told the audience that many examples of folk tales and fairy tales were universal. “We see similar elements across the world to the extent that some are so similar they must
somehow come from the same source. We can see that there will always be differences because even when we look at the same stories, some have travelled through generations in the desert and some from the oceans and some from the mountains, these stories vary according to different ways of living and different ways of communicating.” And she pointed out: “What we do know is that in any form, if parents do not read to their children, their children will not become readers.”

Maitha Al Khayyat agreed: “When I was writing my story, I felt that we always need to keep the backbone of the narrative but at the same time, I needed to write it in my own way. Our kids don’t know enough about each other and about our community, so it’s up to us as authors and illustrators to tell these stories. And of course it’s also down to the publishers to make these books attractive and accessible.”

Ameera bin Kadra continued: “To be honest, I found my story a little rigid and I wanted to make sure the messages and origins were there but I needed to lighten it up to a certain extent, so I injected some humour as well – I hope it’s worked!”

For Alya Al Shamsi, there was always reasoning behind the stories she was told and others that she had heard from other people.

“My tale was really quite disturbing, so I had to tone it down in some form. But it was generally accepted as a way of living that you told stories sometimes to scare your kids – when you have six children, how else are you going to keep them in order and make sure they don’t go off or get lost?”

Ute Krause concluded the session with her thoughts on the content of a traditional tale – or the modern equivalent. “While positive message should be conveyed, I think values are more easily learned by children if they are shown through the experience of the story’s character, rather than shouting and finger pointing.”

Having completed the written content, the authors will then have their stories illustrated and ready for publishing in time for the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival in April 2018.


About the UAEBBY
The UAEBBY is the national branch of the IBBY, a non-profit organisation which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together. The IBBY seeks to promote international understanding through children’s books; to give children everywhere the opportunity to have access to reading material with high literary and artistic standards; to provide support and training for those involved with children and children’s literature; to stimulate research and scholarly works in the field of children’s literature and to protect and uphold the right of the child to a general education and direct access to information.

Ute Krause – Workshop Instructor
Ute Krause has been working as a children’s book writer and illustrator for the past 30 years. She has illustrated around 400 and written 22 books. Her work has been turned into films for children’s T.V., into radio plays, nominated for children’s book prizes and translated into many different languages. Six of her books have been translated by Abu Dhabi translation initiative KALIMA into Arabic. She grew up in Asia and Africa and lived for six years in New York. Ute Krause’s picture book “Oscar and the Very Hungry Dragon” (also translated into Arabic) was nominated for the Florida Reading Association Award, for the Montana Treasure State Picture Book Award and the Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award 2012.

Attached photo during the panel discussion:
From left to right: Ameera bin Kadra, Maitha Al Khayyat, Alya Al Shamsi, and Ute Krause.

Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature Sheds Light on the Winning Titles of 2017

The jury of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and sponsored by Etisalat Group, came together for a panel discussion at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2017) to highlight the importance of such an award in supporting new developments in the field of Arabic children’s literature and elevating the standard of work produced for children and young adults over the past years.

Dr. Yasmine Motawy, Senior Instructor at the Department of Rhetoric and Composition at the American University in Cairo; Tamer Said, Director-General of Kalimat Group; Mertxe Paris, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Mosaics Llibres publishing house; and Iraqi author and artist Intelaq Mohammed Ali, unanimously advocated for the need of the award to facilitate the popularity of books and authors, the promotion of reading, fostering a love of books in children, and honour the best regional talents in the field.

The jury commended the quality of entries at this year’s edition of the award, which reflected a high-level and nuanced engagement between authors and illustrators. Several titles deftly tackled issues of social importance within Arab communities, making them appropriate for the consumption of young readers. They also highlighted the potential that some entries have for translation, calling out on suitable publishers who could collaborate on these projects.

The panel discussion addressed key points on the mechanisms, regulations and disciplines carried out by the jury in the nomination and selection of the winners. It also put forth a number of new ideas, recommendations and initiatives that would support the jury.

A recommendation about involving children and school students in the evaluation process of the submitted titles in the upcoming editions, gauging the impact of the entries on them, and using that as a parameter to judge the quality of the literary product was also made.

Shedding light on why some of the titles were disqualified or could not make it to the final entries, the jury explained that some were adaptations and some others did not meet the requisite level of quality. The jury explained that the reasons for disqualifying such titles were the excessive use of informal vocabulary that made the texts ambiguous and the language ineffective, widening the gap between the illustrations and the main idea of the text. In some books, the illustrations did not support the text to bring out the main message.

The panel emphasised that it is crucial that authors deploy literary techniques to enrich their text and avoid rigidity, bring it closer to the readers’ interests and aspirations, and use an intellectual approach that exemplifies the reality of the written text in attractive ways.

This year, the award featured creative literary experiments from three Arab countries; the UAE, Jordan and Lebanon. ‘Two Homes Instead of One’ by Lorca Sbeity, illustrated by Mona Yakzan and published by Dar Al Saqi in Lebanon, won Children’s Book of the Year, worth AED 300,000, while ‘Cappuccino’ by Fatima Sharafeddine, which is published by Dar Al Saqi in Lebanon, won Young Adult Book of the Year, worth AED 200,000.

‘My Mother is a Gorilla and My Father is an Elephant’ by Dr Naseeba Al Ozaibi, illustrated by Abdulrazaque Al Salhany, published by Al Aalm Al Arabi publishing house in the UAE, won Best Text, worth AED 100,000; ‘Whatever Happened to My Brother Ramiz’ by Taghreed Najjar, illustrated by Maya Fidawi and published by Al Salwa Publishers in Jordan, won Best Production, worth AED 100,000; and ‘The Seventh Day’s Sheep’ by Amina Al Hashemi, illustrated by Maya Fidawi and published by Yanbow Al Kitab in Morocco, won Best Illustration, worth AED 100,000.

The UAE ranked first in the Digital Book App of the Year category, the award’s latest category worth AED 100,000, for the ‘Lamsa’ application, which is developed by the Lamsa company in the UAE, and targets the age group of 2-8 years.

The Etisalat Award is divided into six categories – ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ valued at AED 300,000, distributed equally between the author, illustrator and publisher; ‘Young Adult Book of the Year’ worth AED 200,000, distributed equally between the author and publisher. There are also four awards of AED 100,000 each for ‘Best Text’, ‘Best Illustration’, ‘Best Production’ and ‘Digital Book App of the Year’. AED 300,000 from the award is dedicated to organising workshops to help develop the talent of promising Arab writers, illustrators and publishers through the ‘Warsha’ programme.

The winners of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature’s ninth edition were honoured at the opening ceremony of the 36th Sharjah International Book Fair, which runs until 11 November 2017.


Attached photo during the panel discussion.