Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival Begins April 18 with 2600 events and activities


Festival will host 286 guests from 121 countries and organise 2,600 events and activities

Ahmed Al Ameri: Sharjah Ruler’s vision and Jawaher Al Qasimi’s directives have made SCRF a platform for innovation and creativity

• First time attractions: 3D books / Pop-up books exhibition and Future Machine exhibition
• New SCRF mascots from the future: ‘Noqta’ (Dot), ‘Qalam’ (Pen), ‘Wamda’ (Flash), and ‘Shuaa’ (Beam)
• ‘Little Chef’ competition for age groups 6-10 and 11-16 years

Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) is gearing up to host the 10th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) in style. A line-up of 2,600 cultural and literary events and activities to enrich and entertain all ages, books and literary materials showcased by 134 publishers from 18 Arab and foreign nations, and 286 authors, poets and literary guests hailing from 121 countries, who will all come together to present an 11-day cultural extravaganza at a venue spanning 2,233 sqmt. – is just a numeric overview of what’s in store at the biggest children’s reading festival in the region this year.

Scheduled to run from April 18-28 at Expo Centre Sharjah, under the theme, ‘Your Future… Just a Book Away’, SCRF 2018 will see many new attractions, the details of which were presented at a press conference by HE Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, today (Monday,
April 2), at the SBA headquarters.

HE Mohammed Hassan Khalaf, Director General of Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC), and Mohammed Al Amimi, Vice President of Business and Customer Relations at Etisalat, several SBA officials as well as a numerous representatives of local and regional media, intellectuals and children’s literature enthusiasts were in attendance.


Giving a detailed presentation of the programme schedule and main highlights of SCRF 2018, Al Ameri observed that it reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to nurture future generations and empower them with intellect and knowledge, fostering their lives in a way that develops their knowledge and appreciation of diverse cultures.

He said that SCRF’s rich programme of diverse activities has been designed in line with the guidance of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), to offer the festival as a platform where world cultures meet to enrich one another with innovation and creativity.

Of the 134 participating publishers, the UAE tops the list 62 representations, followed by Lebanon (22), Egypt (21), Jordan and the UK with five publishers each, in addition to companies from USA, South Korea and China, among others.

SCRF 2018 will host of series of interactive activities spanning several programmes under the main themes of Kids Activities, Cultural Programmes, Cultural Café, Kids’ Creative Café, Social Media Café and Cookery Corner.

For the first time, workshops will be held in spaces that will be similar to labs where participants will enjoy a heightened level of interaction. It was revealed that some of these activities will be held in the same areas where publishers will set up their exhibition stands to bring children closer to books and other sources of knowledge while enabling parents to enjoy these events with their children.

Festival mascots: ‘Noqta’ (Dot), ‘Qalam’ (Pen), ‘Wamda’ (Flash), and ‘Shuaa’ (Beam)

In a bid to make the festival more appealing to children, four new characters have been brought to SCRF. These children – ‘Wamda’ (Flash), ‘Qalam (Pen), ‘Noqta’ (Dot) and Shuaa’ (Beam) – who depicted as inhabitants of a distant land and a future far away, will be in Sharjah through the 11 days of the festival to accompany the young festival-goers on their journey of fun and learning. More than 1,200 name suggestions were entered as part of an SCRF social media contest. The winners whose names were chosen will be awarded at the festival. Through these characters, SBA seeks to move closer to the child’s imagination and capture it in a way that makes the SCRF vision relatable to young readers, and by offering them the benefits of reading and learning fun, playful and creative ways.

Future Machine Exhibition

SCRF 2018 will be the first to host the ‘Future Machine’ exhibition in the festival’s 10-year history. Through a series of insightful and entertaining activities tailored to appeal the acumen of the youth, the exhibition seeks to broaden their horizons of understanding in science, knowledge and future technologies.

Live visual shows offering children insights into the new digital age, models and replicas that run on the basics of artificial intelligence and the principles of how robots function will be some of the exhibition’s attractions.

3D Book exhibition

The 3D Book exhibition will also be a first-time SCRF attraction, and bring together 250 pop-up books from the 3D Book Centre in the Italian city of Forli. The books on display will represent eight periods of time, starting with The Beginnings (1880), and From Three Dimensions to Modelling (1920), and The Birth of the Concept Model (1930), The Fan (1940), The Global Achievement (1950), Kopasta Books (1960), Phase of Modelling Books (1970), and finally, the New Amazing Millennium (2000).

Hosting Italian Board on Books for Young People

Al Ameri noted that the Italian Board on Books for Young People will be celebrated as a Guest of Honour, with representation at the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) stand. This is a new step in furthering UAEBBY’s keen interest to extend bridges of cooperation with its international peers by bringing them to cultural events organised by Sharjah.

He pointed out that as part of a diverse cultural programme celebrating Italian culture, the UAEBBY will host several Italian authors and illustrators, most notably Italian children’s book author Beatrice Masini, illustrator Andrea Antinori, and expert Grazia Gotti.

Al Ameri outlined that SCRF 2018 will host the seventh edition of the Sharjah Children’s Books Illustrations Exhibition, which will feature 355 artworks by 104 illustrators and artists from 32 countries. This will include 29 artists from Arab countries and 67 illustrators from the rest of the world.

Arab and foreign guests and speakers

In her presentation, Khoula Al Mujaini, Events Coordinator at SBA, outlined the list of the headlining Arab and foreign authors and artists who will be seen partaking in this year’s activities. They include famous Egyptian actress Sabrin, and Bahraini actress, Haifa Hussein who has enriched Arab television, cinema and theatre with many outstanding works. Other guests include renowned Egyptian actor, Abdul Rahman Abu Zahra, who has a long history in cinema, television and theatre, Algerian artist Tareq Al Arabi Tarkan, who has written over 1,000 songs as well as created scripts for several TV shows and famous cartoon films. Syrian actress and dubbing artist, Amal Hawijeh, will also be in attendance.

Foreign guests include British children’s book author, Sibéal Pounder, American poet and author Mark Gonzalez, award-winning Indian children’s author Natasha Sharma, Indian actor and producer Varun Pruthi, British children’s author and illustrator Ed Vere, and American award-winning children’s author, Miranda Paul.

Kids Programme: Workshops and interactive events

Al Mujaini revealed that the festival will organise a series of workshops and activities for school pupils and teachers in the morning and will be presented by an elite group of experts on art, literature and learning methods. SCRF will also see a diverse package of educational workshops, organised in collaboration with the top training centres.

The festival will host Fun Robotics – the first robotics centre in the UAE dedicated offering opportunities to children and adults to develop their knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering and mechanics. At the festival, they will organise several intellectually stimulating workshops and activities on a range of interesting topics.

Theatrical performances

A range of theatrical shows that aim to inculcate noble humanitarian values in children will be staged at SCRF 2018. These include international favourites, ‘Tuta and Monkey Cheetah’ and ‘Island of Kids’ Area’ from Kuwait, and the ‘Hara Hiroki’ show from Japan.

Social Media Café: Hub of interactions and learning

Al Mujaini said the Social Media café will see the participation of a number of famous social media influencers, both young and adults, to enrich children’s knowledge and experiences, and offer them useful information, since social media platforms are increasingly used by young individuals for both entertainment and learning. Through its numerous activities, the social media café will seek to strengthen the youth’s awareness about major risks of sharing information via social networking platforms, guide them on how to use online channels safely and beneficially.

Cookery Corner: Shaping the heath of the nation

The Cookery Corner will host an impressive galaxy of the most popular chefs in the world who will engage in 134 events representing three major themes: live cooking demonstrations, cooking competitions and a ‘Little Chef’ competition for two age groups: 6-10 years and 11-16 years.

The most prominent of guests at the Cookery Corner will include Canadian Bal Arneson, chef and award-winning author, TV Host, Compass Celebrity Chef and well-known culinary personality, British chef Nancy McDougall, British chef Lara Star, a children’s book publicist at Chronicle Books. Others will include Canadian chef Suzanne Husseini, and Emirati chef Majida Jassim.

HE Mohammed Hassan Khalaf, Director General of SMC, said: “SCRF is the reflection of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah and through SMC we want media to raise the level of awareness of Sharjah’s cultural project. In Sharjah and the UAE media efforts have gone hand in hand with our projects and initiatives like this reading festival that are big contributors to our efforts to creating a knowledge-based society.”

“SMC stands strongly by the side of this great event. It’s not just an entertainment activity but something that will build future generations capable of taking on leadership roles. The event’s mission reflects the essence of the SMC – that is to create capable generations of leaders who are enriched with the wisdom of global cultures,” he added.

He highlighted that SMC has allocated a special team that will provide a daily coverage of the events on various media platforms, TV, radio, etc., and will have a special cultural Programme for SCRF too.

Expressing his gratitude to the organisers of the event, he said: “I hope that Sharjah will always remain a lighthouse of culture and knowledge for the UAE and the world.”

The 10th edition will be held in collaboration with a selection of sponsors and partners including Etisalat as the official sponsor, Sharjah Media Corporation as the media sponsor, and strategic partner, Expo Centre Sharjah, in addition to other organisations participating in cultural and educational events.

SCRF is one of the most important cultural events dedicated to children in the UAE and greater region. It has gone beyond being a book exhibition and developed into an integrated event that contributes to enriching the knowledge of visitors with science and literature and garners the participation of organisations and centres dedicated to children.


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