The UAE Makes a Debut in Silent Books Publishing with the UAEBBY

May 22, 2018 - 7:31 am

The UAE has just achieved a new literary milestone by bringing out its first three home grown silent books. Supported by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), the three Emirati wordless picture books elevate the UAE’s international stature as a hub of literary innovation and appeal, especially in the children’s books industry.

The three titles include ‘Night and Day’ written by Emirati writer and illustrator Alia Al Shamsi, and published by Al Hudhud Publishing and Distribution; and ‘Fly’ written and illustrated by Alia Al Badi, and published by Al Fulk Translation and Publishing. In addition to ‘Oh! Its Becoming Bigger’, written and illustrated by Aisha Al Badi and published by Al Fulk Translation and Publishing.

The three books signal the fruition of a series of training workshops the UAEBBY hosted as part of the UAE’s first-ever Silent Book Exhibition it held last year, which saw the participation of numerous Emirati and Arab authors and illustrators interested to create original material in the genre of wordless picture books, which was an uncharted literary territory in the UAE until now.

The UAEBBY’s support to these books is in line with its commitment to develop the capabilities of illustrators and writers of children’s literature in the UAE, and encourage them to enrich their knowledge and experience in the field by motivating them to explore story ideas that resonate with children’s imaginations regardless of their language or reading abilities.

Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY, said: “We are happy to have facilitated the release of the first Emirati silent books, which are such a powerful medium of communication with children, no matter their age, background or literacy levels. The images in these books spark children’s imaginations and are open to their unique interpretation. We hope this initiative will motivate several other Emirati writers and illustrators to give these kinds of books with unrivalled human and social dimensions a try, and through their work, they will help build bridges between diverse civilisations and cultures.”

The Silent Books project started out as an initiative by the International Board on Books for young People (IBBY), themed ‘Silent Books, from the world to Lampedusa and back,’ in 2012 in Lampedusa, the largest Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea and the prime gateway for African and Middle Eastern refugees making their way into Europe. The initiative was aimed at providing refugee children on the island with a collection of wordless picture books to flip through, interact with and enjoy, irrespective of their mother tongue.

The UAEBBY has organised several workshops to support and encourage Emirati illustrators to produce high-quality silent books. The recently concluded 7th edition of Books – Made in UAE, a cultural initiative organised in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region in and sponsored by Knowledge without Borders, brought together 13 Emirati and UAE-based illustrators and artists to learn more about how they can create their own silent books.

These efforts align with UAEBBY’s vision and belief in the importance of wordless picture books in bringing world’s people closer together, conveying humanistic values to the cultures of the world, and spreading the messages of love and peace.

UAEBBY is the national branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Operating in more than 77 countries, IBBY is the main board based in Switzerland and founded in 1953. The organisation is an international network of institutions and individuals from around the world who are committed to promoting and encouraging the culture of reading and bringing children and books together.