Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2020     

Sharjah showcases UAE’s rich history of engagement with children’s literature at Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2020   


  • Sharjah ‘guest of honour’ programme to include literary talks, illustration exhibition, children’s theatre and traditional shows
  • 20 authors, illustrators, storytellers and publishers from the UAE and wider Arab region will lead cultural activities



Milan, 15 February 2020


The Italian city of Bologna is celebrating Sharjah as guest of honour at their upcoming Children’s Book Fair – one of the most prestigious children’s book fairs in the world, which will be taking place from March 30 to April 2. Sharjah’s programme includes panel discussions, interactive activities and traditional shows which highlight the leading experiences of the UAE and Arab world in supporting and promoting children and young adults’ books.


During a press event held in the presence of Antonio Buzzone, CEO of BCBF; Elena Pasoli, Exhibition Director of BCBF; and Alfieri Lorenzon, Director of the Italian Publishers Association, Khoula Al Mujaini, Director of Fairs and Festivals at Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) revealed a packed cultural programme the emirate has designed for the book fair, which includes a diversity of events and activities. These will be led by a stellar line-up of more than 20 authors, illustrators, storytellers and publishers from the UAE and wider Arab region, all brought together in partnership with a host of Sharjah’s cultural entities to educate Italian and international audiences about the UAE’s rich history of engagement with children’s literature.


Al Mujaini noted: “This book fair is a wonderful platform to be presenting Sharjah’s efforts and initiatives dedicated to making the world of books and reading more exciting and accessible to young readers, under the leadership and guidance of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA). With our city celebrating its status as the UNESCO World Book Capital (SWBC) 2019, we have been approaching our efforts and ambitions in a way that can have a stronger and sustainable regional and global impact.”



Opportunities for Emirati – Italian collaboration

Sharjah will be using the BCBF 2020 platform to foster collaboration and exchange between illustrators and children’s author, noted Al Mujaini, saying preparations for one such initiative have been underway for over a year. SBA rolled out an ‘Illustration Production Workshop’ in February 2019 to upskill Emirati illustrators specialised in children’s books, and train them to participate at BCBF 2020. The outcomes of this workshop series, which was led by renowned artists from around the world, will be presented at the Sharjah Pavilion in BCBF 2020.


“We continue to empower authors, illustrators and publishers in the field, helping them create literary content that is more appealing and relatable to new-age readers,” said Al Mujaini.


Alongside these creative matchmaking events, Sharjah will also host matchmaking sessions for Emirati and Italian illustrators and publishers at the fair venue, to boost networking opportunities, support literary translations, and enable key discussions surrounding the complexities involved in the translation of children’s literature.


Elena Pasoli, Exhibition manager, Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF), said: “We are really very happy to have Sharjah Emirate as the Guest of Honour at the next Bologna Children’s Book Fair; this participation has its roots in a very long friendship and collaboration with the Sharjah Book Authority, which we warmly and gratefully thank for the amazing programme they’re preparing both for the fair and the city of Bologna. There’s everywhere a huge and growing interest in discovering more about Emirates’ illustration and literature and we are very proud to offer the international children’s book community such a deep dive into their wonderful world.”


Cultural events, talks, translations

Sharjah will continue its thrust in building bridges between cultures at BCBF 2020 with a selection of
17 Arabic–Italian translations to the fair. These books will be available to visitors at the Sharjah Pavilion, which will be accompanied by six book signing events.



Sharjah will also organise three panel discussions that will throw light on the latest developments and achievements of the UAE and the region in children’s literature. These discussions will showcase Sharjah’s innovative literary projects which have resulted in boosting the number of homegrown publications, emerging translation opportunities and the rise of digital content as well as audiobooks.



Dedicated programme for children in the city’s schools and theatres 

Other activities will include hands-on children’s workshops that will teach kids how to create illustrations inspired by the Arabic alphabet; interactive storytelling sessions, an interactive play that aims to teach children the important role of our mother tongue in shaping and preserving our identity, vibrant folk performances featuring traditional Emirati song and dance, that will entertain the fair’s visitors and fill the streets of Bologna, as well as four school visits across Bologna city that will showcase the Arab region’s literature and culture.


The events and activities that define Sharjah’s GoH cultural programme for the book fair will take the fair’s visitors on a journey to discover Sharjah’s efforts over four decades to establish a comprehensive cultural project, and offer a vibrant platform for Emirati–Italian collaboration.


Led by SBA, the Emirates Writers Union (EWU), Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 (SWBC) Office, Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ), Sharjah Department of Culture, Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH), Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council (Irthi), Sharjah University, Al Qasimi Publications, UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), Kalimat Group, Knowledge without Borders (KwB) and its ‘1001 Titles’ Initiative, will be part Sharjah’s pavilion at the book fair.




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