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11-day Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival begins on Wednesday at Expo Centre

Sharjah: The 11-day annual Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) will begin its 12th edition on Wednesday, May 19, at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Themed ‘For Your Imagination’, SCRF 2021 will feature 537 events and activities, which will include workshops, theatrical shows and other events focused on literature, reading and allied arts. This edition will see much diversity with the participation of 27 authors from 15 countries and 172 publishers showcasing their publications to the young audience.

SCRF is held under the patronage of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah; and Her Highness Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.

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Safety protocols

The festival will strictly follow all COVID-19 preventive measures in line with UAE safety protocols, with an inclusive plan that includes daily sanitisation of the venue’s halls and common areas, thermal scanning at all access points, and placement of hand-sanitiser stations across the venue. Use of face masks and following physical distancing rules will be mandatory.

Who’s coming?

SCRF will offer visitors the opportunity to meet 27 globally and regionally renowned authors. The 16 international luminaries include New York Times best-seller writer and illustrator Claudia Rueda from Colombia. Speaking about the importance of SCRF, Reuda said: “As a reading festival, SCRF aims to engage both children and adults in the joys of literature. When children discover the possibilities of reading surrounded by a playful and exploratory environment, and when that experience is shared by their adult caregivers, the book becomes an instrument of freedom and not an obligation.”

Cultural exchange

Bestselling American author and illustrator of ‘This is How I do it’, Matt Lamothe, said: “My non-fiction picture books focus on bringing different cultures together through the lives of children. Through my participation in SCRF 2021, I hope to share the process of making these books as well as learn from both the children and adults who attend the festival. SCRF allows children to participate in a conversation about our world. Let us share our similarities and celebrate our differences.”

Sharing an audience

For Kevin Sherry, award-winning author and illustrator of ‘I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean’, making a connection with his readers is very important. “Over the course of my 15-year career illustrating children’s books, I have performed thousands of shows at many schools. However, the coronavirus pandemic put an end to school visits. SCRF 2021 will be the first time I will be performing in almost two years and I am very excited about it. Sharing my palpable enthusiasm for reading and literature is what I do best and I am so thrilled SCRF 2021 will be the first place where I resume it. SCRF is instrumental in promoting children’s literature throughout the region and the world. Reading is the best way to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and learn about the world, and SCRF is the event that creates countless new readers. I thank SBA for this great opportunity.”

Drawing children

Japanese manga artist Misako Rocks said she is very excited to be a part of the 12th edition of SCRF. “I cannot wait to meet kids who would love to draw manga with me. As a comic artist and manga teacher, I am very honoured to be an invitee at SCRF, which is a great place for kids to grow their creativity through the various activities it features and also meet authors.”

‘Minimise anxiety’

Author, activist and international speaker Swaady Martin sees SCRF as a vital tool for changing the mindset of youth. She said: “In this extremely stressful environment for children, access to socio-emotional books for children is very important. They help give children the tools to cope with the challenges of everyday life, minimise anxiety and promote happiness. SCRF contributes to children’s exposure to the vast diversity that exists in the world through enabling access to books tackling diverse themes from around the world.”

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