“Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development” and UAEBBY Collaborate to Extend Appeal of Silent Books in Arab Region

As part of its ongoing efforts to extend the experience of silent books to the region, the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development (MCKD), has held a three-day workshop on ‘silent books’ at the Riyadh International Book Fair to encourage Saudi illustrators and publishers to produce the stories, which rely on images rather than text.

As the book fair’s Guest of Honour, the UAE was eager to share cultural experiences with Saudi Arabia, and building on the success of the pioneering silent book workshop held for the first time in UAE, MCKD and UAEBBY were keen to extend the experience to a wider region.

The three-day workshop, held on the sidelines of UAEBBY’s participation at the fair, which ran from March 14-24, was presented by Finnish artist and illustrator Emmi Jormalainen who has a Master’s degree in graphic design, and is specialised in authoring comic books and children’s books illustration.

The workshop showed how designs and illustrations can be as effective as written content in telling a story and conveying emotions. Silent books can also encourage children to be more imaginative in their interpretations of plot, characters and outcomes. Emmi Jormalainen taught the participants the steps of creating a silent book, starting with the ideas and events and concluding with its design.
Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY, said the textless books enable a wider range of young people to understand concepts and enjoy the same stories without the potential barriers of language and culture.

“While literature has a beauty of its own, we must remember that art in its most traditional sense is visual and the messages we derive from a painting or a drawing are as vivid and meaningful as the words that would describe them. One of the greatest applications for silent books is for children under school-age who may be able to fully enjoy a book several times,” she said.

“For the illustrators, graphic designers and publishers attending the workshop, it not only opens up a new world of creativity, it enables them to implement the skills they have learned at the workshop to create and publish their own silent books.” She added.

Al Aqroubi praised the collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development which aims to extend successful cultural experiences that the UAE has pioneered.

The first day of the workshop included an introduction and history of silent books, along with an assignment for the 14 participants to draw a classic fairytale in nine images. On the second day, they created concepts and a storyboard for their own silent book before designing an ‘accordion’ book format. On the final day of the workshop, the participants produced their own silent book and discussed the results.

The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) is the local branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), founded in 2010 upon an initiative by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of the UAEBBY.

The UAEBBY Highlights Role of Silent Books and Illustrations in Enriching Children’s Literature

The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), the local branch of the International Board on Books for Young People(IBBY), was at the helm of two discussion panels, which explored the vital role played by silent books in enriching children’s literature, as well as the significant role illustrations play in adding value to literary content that targets young generations, These discussions were part of the cultural programme at the 38th Livre Paris (Paris Book Fair), which runs from 16 to 19 March.

The silent books’ panel addressed their significant role in nurturing children’s intellectual capabilities, by helping children unlock their imagination with only visuals making up the book’s content. The panel featured Alia Al Shamsi, an Emirati author and illustrator; Geraldine Alebeo, Representative of the French Board on Books for Young People (FBBY); and moderated by Anne-Laure Cognet.

The second panel on children’s books’ illustrations shed light on the important role visual art plays in helping children understand and appreciate the story contained within an illustrated book. It highlighted the latest practices in this field, discussing the most significant challenges that face children’s books illustrators. The panel also discussed the crucial role played by awards like the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, which dedicates a category to ‘Best Illustrations’, as it believes that visual content has an equally substantial role to play in enriching a story, its creative message and goes a long way in enhancing the aesthetic dimensions of children’s literature. Moderated by Alya Al Shamsi, the panel comprised Egyptian illustrator Walid Taher, winner of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature’s and French Illustrator Luwick Ghom.

Marwa Al Aqroubi, said: “Through these discussion panels, the UAEBBY’s aims to open broader horizons to in-depth discussions and dialogues on the realities of artistic illustrations featured in children’s books. These intellectual dialogues enable us to exchange expertise with European intellectuals, fair-goers and children’s illustration experts, which provides Arab illustrators with a more nuanced creative experience,”

“We seek to promote the developed cultural reality in the Emirate of Sharjah and UAE during our participation in Paris Book Fair – an exceptional global cultural event. Through our presence, we intended to educate a large segment of European intellectuals on the array of cultural activities and programmes that are planned and implemented by the UAEBBY throughout the year. We also enlightened visitors about the role the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature has been playing since 2010 in furthering the creative capacities of Arab authors and illustrators and contribute to not just Sharjah’s but the UAE’s overall cultural projects,” she added.

The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) is the local branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) that was founded in 2010 upon an initiative by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi to encourage publishing and distributing high quality Arabic children’s books. UAEBBY aims to provide publishers, authors and illustrators as well as publishing houses, with opportunities to network and share expertise with other professionals in the book industry and help them build their capacity.

Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature Offers Regional Works Strong Representation in Europe

As Sharjah wraps up one of its most significant participations in Paris Book Fair 2018, as the fair’s Special Guest City, breaking down cultural and lingual barriers between East and West, the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature (Etisalat Award), organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and sponsored by ‘Etisalat Group’, took the opportunity to celebrate its 10th year by exhibiting to hundreds of thousands of international visitors MENA’s best Award-winning Arabic titles.

The exhibition, held in Institut de Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute, Paris), comes as part of Etisalat Award’s mission to create a positive impact on participants and visitors as they familiarise themselves on some of the leading Arabic books that inspired children and adults across the region.

This initiative aims to promote the most significant contemporary literary productions in Arabic designed for children and young adults, among European audiences. The exhibition showcases all 27 wining books and digital book apps, as well as an art exhibition featuring the best illustrations contained within these books, contributed by a host of Arab artists.

Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY, said: “Etisalat Award has recognised the talent and creative prowess of several contemporary Arab intellectuals, authors, illustrators and publishers who have dedicated themselves to promoting children’s literature through their works. Since its inception, the award has been a pioneering partner and supporter of an array of works that aim to further elevate Arabic children’s literature. Bringing these gems before an elite European audience is in the interest of enhancing cross-cultural understanding and communication. It also opens an opportunity for the flourishing European translations market always keen to introduce diverse works to their readers, and will allow French intellectuals access to select books that have won the Etisalat Award. Through these new initiatives, we seek to contribute to the promotion of Arabic literature and culture on important literary forums worldwide,”

“Curating this exhibition aligns with our dedication to supporting creative children’s literature personnel in the Arab world who have contributed to the award and helped it reach the position it enjoys today, with their valuable titles. This is why we have chosen the Paris Book Fair to showcase their works – one of the most prestigious cultural events in Europe and the world. This was a great way for us to attract the attention of authors and intellectuals from Europe and beyond to our efforts in trying to elevate the realities of the literary and cultural industries at local and global levels,” she added.

The Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature contributes to promoting Arab children’s literature globally, through its participation at important international forums and events worldwide. It also plays a vital role in showing intellectuals from around the world the Arab world’s literature and culture.

The Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature was launched in 2009 as an initiative by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of the UAEBBY. Sponsored by Etisalat Group, it aims to enrich children’s literature and motivate publishers, authors and illustrators to produce the most creative Arabic children’s books.