The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region organised readings of the stories of 4 talented young Emirati writers and 5 children's book illustrators at the UAEBBY stand during the 2012 Sharjah Children's Reading Festival. The readings were part of the Made in UAE - New Emirati Children's Books' project.
The aim of the project is to encourage the development of Emirati-made children's books that reflect the cultural values and interests of Emirati children. The award-winning German children's book author and illustrator, Ute Krause, led two training workshops, one for authors and one for illustrations, and the writers and illustrators were paired up to work together on the stories.
Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, UAEBBY President commented, "It is our mission to give both aspiring and already published writers and illustrators in the UAE the chance to exchange ideas and knowledge as well as the opportunity to benefit from the expertise of leaders in their field. The readings today were a wonderful testimony to the talent and potential available in the UAE. By providing exposure to these young writers and artists, we wish to not only develop their careers but ultimately inspire others to follow in their footsteps." Susanne Sporrer, director of the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, explained, "With the test readings, the participants in the 'Made in the UAE' project have taken another step towards getting published. They could experience the reactions of the children and also interest publishers in their stories. We are very proud to present such talented Emirati authors and illustrators to the public." Six authors that had participated in a 2011 Goethe-Institut workshop for children's book writers were selected to provide texts for children's books, which were then illustrated by six Emirati illustrators who had taken part in another workshop organised by the UAEBBY and the Goethe-Institut at the beginning of April, 2012.
Each of the writers involved got the opportunity to read their story to a captivated audience of children and children's book experts, while the illustrator showed their illustrations. Noura Al-Khoori and Shaima Al Malik presented .Fanteer the Fluffy Flamingo', Maitha al-Khayat and Abdulla Al Sharhan. The Runaway Nit', Aysha Al Hashemi and Nasir Nasrallah. Fantasy Alphabet', Nooreya AlObaidly and Fatma al Mehair. Cake story', Noura Al Khoori and Nauf al Shaikh. Dates to Remember'.
Through initiatives such as this, the UAEBBY and the Goethe-Institut are working together to add to the Arabic children's book canon and inspire the production of books that Emirati children can identify with: books with images and characters they can recognise and a culture and lifestyle they are familiar with. It is, as always, their goal to advance the cause of Arabic children's literature and encourage the development of a well-read future generation.