Sharjah has set themselves the mission of becoming “the premier reading festival for children in the region.”
It’s hard to think of any children’s reading festival that competes: Cairo closed its children’s book festival — ostensibly “merging” it with the book fair (sigh) — and, thus far, Doha’s children’s book fair has been on a much smaller scale.
Meanwhile, the 2012 Sharjah International Children’s Reading Festival (#SCRF12) launched April 23 with what appear to be strong crowds and great fun, and the fest continues through May 2. It brings together authors, illustrators, publishers, children, and lots of creative materials.
According to a news release, there are some 100 cultural activities for kids, as well as a number of forums for their grown-ups.
The fair’s general coordinator Hind Lenaid: “We have prepared a broad spectrum of activities that cater to children of all ages – including those with special needs, the hearing impaired, the speech impaired and the visually impaired. … The program also includes theatrical plays, reading sessions, popular games, circus performances, clown shows and many other activities to enhance the love for knowledge and nurture the habit of reading in children’s minds.”
Meanwhile, illustrators have been working on communal canvases and sharing their artwork via Twitter.
Also, although Sharjah already offers one of the world’s largest book awards for children (the Etisalat prize, given to a children’s book each November), five prizes are also being awarded during this April-May festival.
It’s becoming fairly safe to say that, if you’re a children’s book author, illustrator, or publisher, Sharjah is fast becoming the don’t-miss destination of the region.