From readers to writers, young ones realise their dreams at Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival

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A performance at Expo Centre Sharjah, home of the Children’s Reading Festival
Image Credit: Amna Alansaari/Gulf News

Sharjah: Not all children are glued to screens, many continue to roam the worlds found in traditional story books. This is easy to see at the ongoing Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival at Expo Centre Sharjah.

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One of the Festival’s special feature is that it caters to a wide age group among children, with diverse activities such as workshops, live demonstrations, talks, author meets and greets and – of course – an endless collection books. Other workshops include animation, filmmaking, entrepreneurship and more.

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Flipping through the pages together at the event
Image Credit: Amna Alansaari/Gulf News

It’s a place where young readers and budding novelists can feel at home and realise their dreams. No talent is overlooked – a show of competition-winning children’s artwork hung in a circular thicket, the individual illustrations carefully lit, bears witness to that.

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Some young visitors also have plans beyond the realm of literature and can easily find an activity to fuel their passion.

“I love that I can learn how to cook so I can help my mom and I can also learn how to make a car and race with it,” 9-year-old Sara told Gulf News when asked about her experience at the Festival, now in its 15th edition.

Image Credit: Chantal Fouad/Gulf News

Fictional stories are a favourite among young girls. “My two favourite books to read are Matilda and Harry Potter,” said 8-year-old Ghazal said.

Image Credit: Chantal Fouad/Gulf News

The event also welcomes school pupils and university students and has a volunteer programme to help foster a community passionate about books and reading.

‘Voices of Future Generations’

At the Festival, teen literary champions from the ‘Voices of Future Generations’, a UNESCO initiative supported by Sheikha Hessa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East, and backed by the Emirates Literature Foundation, recently delved into the transformative power of writing, and how children can use their creative talents to shape their futures and influence society, during a panel discussion titled ‘Writing for Change’.

Abdulkareem Ghazal, Aisha Humaid Al Khayyal and Nourah Ahmed Al Mushtaghil
Image Credit: Supplied

Abdulkareem Ghazal, a winner in the VoFG competition and moderator of the session, described writing as “the most beautiful and magical world”, a realm where he can confidently and clearly articulate his views, ideas, and dreams. He engaged his fellow panelists, Aisha Humaid Al Khayyal and Nourah Ahmed Al Mushtaghil, in discussing their creative processes and triumphs. Al-Khayyal’s story Scarecrow Straw and Al-Mushtaghil’s story Underwater Magic, which secured the top prize in the ‘Most Intriguing Plot’ category, had won accolades at the competition.