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The Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) is back again to unite young readers with creators of children’s literature and allied arts from May 19 – 29.

Themed ‘For Your Imagination’, the 12th edition of the festival organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) will host a series of events, workshops and other interactive activities that will transport young generations to a wonderful world of innovative edutainment with the participation of 172 publishers from 15 countries. Popular artists and experts will lead 537 specialised activities and a series of theatrical shows, and workshops.

The 11-day event, which will follow strict Covid-19 preventive measures will host literary discussions by 27 participating authors from 15 countries, in both in-person and online formats.

SCRF 2021 will also host an elite group of Arab and international illustrators who will participate in the 9th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition, which runs on the sidelines of SCRF, and a Comics corner that will take visitors on an explorative journey of the creative art form through 132 workshops and activities.

The 12th edition will bring together 11 authors from the Arab region, including Emirati artist and illustrator Aysha Al Hermani and Egyptian actors Ahmad Amin, Tayeb Adib and Amr Samir Atef.

Other authors include Heba Ismail Mandani and Huda Al Shawwa Qadoumi from Kuwait; Nisreen Jaafar Al Noor from Bahrain; Faraj Al Dhafeeri from KSA; Wafa Al Shamsi from Oman; Fidaa Al Zumar from Jordan; and Hussein Ali Haref from Iraq.

Meanwhile, 16 International authors will take part in the 11-day extravaganza, including Matt Lamothe, Ambika Anand Prokop, Kevin Sherry, Nanette Heffernan, Abby Cooper from USA; Curtis Jobling, Aisha Bushby, Katie and Kevin Tsang, Fransie Frandsen, Sebastian de Souza from the UK; Swaady Martin from Ivory Coast; Misako Rocks from Japan; Claudia Rueda from Columbia; Dinara Mirtalipova from Uzbekistan; and Zenubia Arsalan from Pakistan.

Young readers will have the opportunity to participate in 385 activities presented by experts and specialists that will enrich their imagination and knowledge. They will also have a chance to attend SBA’s very first production titled Dreams Book, with a cast that includes Wadima Ahmed, Wahba Al Duri, Ahmed bin Hussein, Bader Al Shuaibi, and others.

SCRF will also host a play Good Night, and a series of roaming shows, namely, Enchanted Flower Globe, Big Names in History, Colour Fashion, and Invisible Duo.

The famous Cookery Corner will sizzle up this year’s edition of SCRF too with more than 20 culinary activities presented by four renowned Arab chefs – Jordanian Daad Abu Jaber, Ghada Tally from Egypt, Sudanese Zahra Abdullah, and Alia Al Kassimi from Morocco.

SCRF will host the 9th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition with 395 artists and illustrators from 50 countries exhibiting their works. The artists include 106 from 15 Arab nations and 289 from 35 countries around the world.

Children and youth will have the opportunity to explore the world of comics through 110 workshops and 22 shows presented by specialists and artists.

In keeping with its dedication to developing the talents of youth and instilling a love of the Arabic language, the SCRF organises the ‘Poetry Knight’ literary competition in collaboration with the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA). The poetry contest seeks to encourage young talents to hone their recitation and public performance skills. First, second and third place winners of the Poetry Knight competition will receive AED 3,000, AED 2,000 and AED 1,000, respectively.

In line with SCRF’s vision to support and improve the visual content in children’s books in Arabic, this year’s edition of the event will bring together bookmakers at the Children’s Book Makers Platform (Ufuq). The platform aims to promote Arabic children’s books that feature high-quality visual content that can compete globally in the publishing industry targeting Arab speakers.

Ufuq will offer a financial support of $1500 to each participating illustrator for the production of one book. Participating illustrators and publishers can receive aid for up to a maximum of two books, which will also receive marketing and advertising support in line with SCRF’s vision.

Ufuq has so far received 50 entries from Arabic publishing houses as well as Emirati, Arab and international illustrators from 15 countries including Italy, Germany, Mexico, Argentina, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan and Iraq, to name a few.