Sharjah, May 02, 2023: Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives of his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), the 14th annual edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) has opened its doors to the nation and the world today (Wednesday) in Expo Centre Sharjah.
Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), the cultural festival takes children, young people, and their families on a 12-day journey with its theme ‘Train your Brain’, to explore and partake in a host of activities, workshops and events that will broaden their minds and hone their talents.
The festival’s diverse cultural programme is open to visitors from 4pm-8pm today (May 3). On weekdays, visitors can walk in anytime between 9am-8pm, during weekdays, and there will be an additional hour to enjoy on the weekends when SCRF will be welcoming guests until 9pm. On Fridays, the festival gates will open at 4pm and close at 9pm.
This year, the cultural event designed for children in the region will shape young minds with 1,732 activities designed to foster a love of reading, offer a platform to those involved in children’s literature to develop creative content and elevate the children’s book industry both in the Arab world and globally.
This year’s cultural extravaganza brings together 457 guests, including artists, writers, illustrators, experts, and influencers who will lead engaging activities and workshops as well as unveil their latest works.
SCRF’s diverse activities are spread across six stops, namely, publisher pavilions, Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition, Workshops, Cookery Corner, Social Media Station, and Comics Corner. Moreover, children and families can also enjoy theatre productions and art showcases, roaming shows, as well as literary talks and cultural sessions.
Visitors can explore the latest releases from the children’s book fair, which brings together 141 publishers in the children’s literature sector, offering content ranging from novels to educational books and creative genres.
SCRF 2023 will stage 21 panel discussions hosting 68 guests from 21 Arab and foreign countries. The diverse cultural agenda includes ‘The Importance of Developing Emotional Intelligence Skills at Young Age’, which will host speakers Dr. Maya Alhuwi from the UAE, Lorca Sbeity from Lebanon, and Canadian Dr Louise Lambert.
Another panel discussion on the agenda is ‘The Link Between Artificial Intelligence (AI), Education Curricula, and Children’s Books’, which brings together Dr. Karima Matar Almazroui from the UAE, Egyptian author Amal Farah; and from the UK, Ross Welford. Meanwhile, authors, including Dr. Haitham Al Khawaja from Syria, Roysten Abel from India, and Sharifa Mousa from the UAE, will be speakers in the panel discussion titled ‘Implementing Theatre Studies in Educational Curricula’.
A range of theatrical and artistic performances
The 12-day festival will be home to 946 events led by 25 guests from 10 countries, including various workshops for children covering arts, sports, science, and technology. The festival will also host 136 theatre performances, roaming shows, acrobat and music concerts led by 16 guests from 16 countries.
The most notable activities include the children’s play “Alone at Home,” produced by SBA. The fun-filled play will run at 7:30 pm on May 12 and 13 and at 6 pm on the 14th, while the comedy play Akbar the Great Nahi Rahe will be held at 4 pm on May 7, and the children’s show Masaka Kids Africana which again highlights the attention to diversity by the festival.
The popular Cookery Corner returns this edition with over 33 culinary activities presented by twelve renowned chefs from nine countries. The chefs taking part in the 14th edition of SCRF hail from New Zealand, the US, India, Portugal, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, UAE and Gabon.
Children and youth will have the opportunity to explore the world of comics through more than 323 activities, including workshops, panel discussions, and a series of roaming shows led by 15 creatives from 4 countries. The most prominent activities at the corner include Acro Adventures and Ninja Tests, in addition to workshops and interactive activities showcasing 35 local talents and their works.
Social Media Station
The Social Media Station will be home to 72 activities led by influencers and content creators, including Wessam Qutob, Chef Faisal Al Khalidi, Azza Al Mughairy and Jamal Al Mulla, who will shine light on the latest techniques for creating content on digital platforms and developing suitable content for target audiences.