Children help writers structure their stories

Children help writers structure their stories
Children help writers structure their stories

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Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - At its interactive pavilion that features a swing, Sharjah Child Friendly Office is showing visitors, especially parents and children, the importance of unstructured play.

Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter

Publishing a children’s book is a collaborative process. Along with the author, several creative minds come together to partner in producing the books that see the light of day. Who are these people and how does this partnership work? This was the topic of discussion at the cultural session, ‘Be my Partner’, held at the 12th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival.

“Children are my first partners, followed by the publisher, translator and the editor,” said Emirati TV presenter, moderator, and voiceover artist Safia Al Shehi who has published two children’s stories, The Golden Bird and Maha and the Paper. “I wouldn’t have been an author if I had not become a mother. Motherhood was my launching pad as an author.”

Joining the bilingual discussion from London to give their views on the topic were Katie and Kevin Tsang, a husband-and-wife duo who have partnered as co-authors on the Sam Wu and Dragon Realm series of children’s books.

“We write all of our books together,” explained Kevin. “To make sure we both stay sane, we do all the planning, brainstorming, and outlining together on a white board, way before we begin putting down words on a page. Sometimes we may have entirely different perspectives on how a scene will develop, and I’ve realised that those materialise into some of the strongest ones in our books.”

“Another person who partners with us in this process is definitely our editor, and the illustrator is also a valued partner,” added Katie.

Apart from a host of creative professionals, the three authors agreed that it is the young readers who contribute significantly to the development of a book. Conducting workshops with children not only helps writers stay inspired, it also gives them a grip on what kids prefer to read these days.

“One of our workshops, ‘Create a Dragon’, served as an inspiration for our future dragon characters. We also ask kids the names they would give their dragons, for instance. We try and make our books as exciting and as pacey as any anime show or video game used by our target audience,” elaborated Katie.

“What I love is how untethered their imagination is. That inspires me,” said Kevin.

Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority, the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival aims to unleash the creativity of children and young adults by fostering the imagination. The 11-day event, running daily at Expo Centre Sharjah,  concludes on May 29.

SHARJAH CHILD FRIENDLY OFFICE: Sharjah Child Friendly Office (SCFO), an affiliate of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA) is highlighting and promoting children’s right to play at the ongoing Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) in Expo Centre Sharjah.

At its interactive pavilion that features a swing, SCFO is showing visitors, especially parents and children, the importance of unstructured play as stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in alignment with the UAE Child Protection Law (Wadeema).  

The entity has taken the opportunity to encourage children to play, given its importance in aiding both their physical and psychological development. SCFO also seeks to underline that play is a key to unlocking several talents and capabilities in children and enables them to gain essential life skills.

Throughout the festival, SCFO will raise the awareness of visitors through a competition that requires visitors to take pictures inside the pavilion and upload them on Instagram using the hashtag #Sharjahchildfriendly. A cash prize will be given to 2 randomly-selected winners before the conclusion of SCRF 2021 on May 29.

The pavilion is also educating participants and visitors at SCRF 2021 on SCFO’s programmes and initiatives, in addition to promoting Sharjah as the region’s first Child Friendly City as part of Unicef’s Child Friendly Cities initiative, and highlight the emirate’s achievements to promote and elevate the rights of children with the highest international standards.

The 11-day festival features 537 activities, including 132 workshops and activities, author discussions, dances and theatre.

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