UAEBBY’s ‘Books Made in UAE’ Writers Workshop Series
Brings Children’s Rights and Safety to the Fore
Emirati writers learn extensively UAE’s Federal Child Protection Law ‘Wadeema’, and the UN Convention on Rights of the Child
⦁ Fatima Sharafeddine: Sharjah has merged its internationally-recognised competencies in literature and child welfare into a spectacular UAEBBY workshop programme.
⦁ Badria Al Shamsi: I utilised the workshop’s platform to build my idea of encouraging children to choose freely according to their personality.
⦁ Nadia Al Najjar: This is the first time I’ve tackled the subject of child rights and protection in my writing.
Sharjah, June 13, 2019:The fundamentals of writing for children and young adults (YA), focusing on children’s rights and safety, have been comprehensively tackled at the eighth annual edition of ‘Books Made in UAE’ workshop series organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY). Workshop participants included prominent Emirati women writers.
This specialised literary training series was started by the UAEBBY in 2012 to encourage the creation of high-quality Emirati-made children’s and YA books, written and illustrated by local writers and illustrators. Their underlying objective is to make homegrown literature, which reflects the cultural values and interests of the young people of the UAE, available to young readers.
Over an intensive five-day training course held in Sharjah, workshop trainer, Fatima Sharafeddine, who is an award-winning children’s author of over 130 books from Lebanon, exposed participants to various issues regarding the techniques and art of creative writing, as well as to children’s rights, based on the Wadeema law and on the UN resolution of children’s rights.
The basic standards and principles to be considered when writing for children and young people, latest technologies that can facilitate the integration of protection laws and literary products in order to promote awareness among members of society, especially children and youth, were some of the important touchpoints of the discussions had during the workshop’s sessions.
Fatima Sharafeddine: Their intent to tackle issues faced by Arab World’s children strongly reflected in their storylines
Sharafeddine noted that the commitment of the workshop’s participants to heighten awareness about children’s rights through their writing was reflected in the way they conceived and shaped their individual storylines, which highlighted key challenges of education, safety and healthcare faced by millions of children in the Arab World.
She added: “It comes as no surprise that Sharjah – a UNICEF Baby- and Child-friendly City as well as the UNESCO World Book Capital 2019 – will merge these internationally recognised competencies into a spectacular UAEBBY workshop programme to pass them on to current and future generations of Emiratis. The UAEBBY has been making stellar efforts to raise the standards of children’s literature produced locally in the UAE.”
Badria Al Shamsi: Children’s books must be seeped in meaning and virtue
Workshop participant, Badria Al Shamsi emphasised that books written for children should be meaningful and full of virtues. “I write books that make children laugh and at the same time, teach them a social value,” she noted that her dream is to make the world a better place for every child through her writing that will empower young readers by making them realise that they have the freedom to choose what is right.
“I utilised this workshop’s platform to tackle this idea of encouraging children to choose freely according to their personality. I discussed the story of a girl who wishes to change her name – a decision several societies don’t allow children to take. My story aims to encourage children to have a say without fear of restrictive conventions. This will boost their self-confidence to enable them find their purpose in life.”
Nadia Al Najjar: Children’s literature is a steppingstone to a bright future
Emirati writer, Nadia Al Najjar said: “This is the first time I’ve tackled the subject of child rights and protection in my writing. The workshop has made me realise how powerful our work can be in creating awareness and building a more just and stable future for our children.
“Children’s literature is a steppingstone to a bright future – the genre has experienced remarkable growth in recent years, thanks to numerous initiatives like the UAEBBY’s Books Made in UAE workshop series.”
She added: “My story tackles the subject of the freedom of expression because every child has the right to choose and express their opinion. It is important to encourage children to do this to enhance their self-confidence and ability to make their own decisions in the future.”
The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) is the national section of the United Arab Emirates within the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). The objectives of the UAEBBY include the encouragement of the publishing and distribution of quality children’s books in the UAE, providing aspiring and published Emirati authors and illustrators as well as UAE publishing houses with networking, exchange and capacity building opportunities as well as promoting international understanding through children’s books.