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

March 24, 2018 - 4:43 am

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.