Magical fantasy world brought to youngsters at Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival

SHARJAH, Children were taught to tap into the potential of their imagination during an author and students session on the ninth day of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, which runs until April 28 at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Abie Longstaff, a British author of children’s books, started off her session by explaining to the youngsters how she gathers ideas to write about. Taking some time off writing generates an array of ideas for her books. “When you are a writer, you have to describe your book really well so, sometimes, it helps if you touch or smell what you are trying to describe so the reader can really envision it,” she told the children, who were aged between 4 and 11. “Dreaming a bit is really good when you’re a writer.”

Longstaff spoke of her favourite books, before asking the children about their familiarity with them. The young ones cheered as they put their hands up.

She described the magic in each of these books and that, all the books read when children are younger mix up inside of them to make them the kind of writer they one day become. “If you’re thinking about becoming a writer, it’s important to do lots of reading,” she noted.

She spoke of all the secret passages in different books, games and films, including Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Aladdin and Tomb Raider. All these have secret doors which mixed inside her mind when she started to write. The children took notes as she explained a secret passageway she found in her parents’ house in France.

Another idea she gave them involved collecting images on Pinterest when experiencing a writer’s block. Different pictures give writers different ideas for their stories. That led her to write a series of books called The Trapdoor Mysteries.

Longstaff included the group of children in her session as she asked them to invent their own trapdoor or secret magic door.

The youngsters came up with a number of ideas, from underwater doors, to a fireplace, under a carpet, in the attic, behind a desk and under a swimming pool. She then asked them to think about a secret way the door would open. “When you’re a writer, the thinking time is really important,” she went on.

The festival’s events span several programmes, under the main themes of Kids Activities, Cultural Programmes, Cultural Cafe, Kids’ Creative Cafe, Social Media Cafe and Cookery Corner. SCRF 2018 also features a series of international theatrical performances like ‘Tuta and Monkey Cheetah’, and the ‘Island of Kids’ Area’ that combine education, fun and entertainment to highlight the values of honesty to young visitors.

A prime highlight of the festival this year is its first ever 3D Book Exhibition, featuring 250 pop-up books from the 3D Book Centre in Forli, Italy. The books have been handpicked by the exhibition curators to represent eight different periods of time. One of SCRF’s mainstays, the Sharjah Exhibition for Children’s Books Illustrations, is featuring 355 artworks by 104 illustrators from 32 countries this year.

Source: Emirates News Agency