Captivating visuals and engaging content are key to attract children to the world of non-fiction, say authors at SCRF 2021
Matt Lamothe and Dr. Wafa Al-Shamsi lead a discussion on Non-Fiction Books for Children
at the 12thSharjah Children’s Reading Festival
Sharjah, May 23, 2021
Previously seen as merely an educational tool, children’s non-fiction books today lay great emphasis on making both the visual and written content engaging, substantially enhancing itspotential asa compelling genre, said two authors of non-fiction at a cultural discussion held at the 12th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival.
In a culturalpanel titled ‘Non-fiction Books for Children’, moderated by Layla Mohamed at Expo Centre Sharjah, Matt Lamothe, author, illustrator and animator, discussed the scope and challenges of writing non-fiction for children with Dr. Wafa Al-Shamsi, a distinguished award-winning author from Oman.
The challenge with non-fiction, Lamothesaid, lies in working with real source material. “Photographs do not give room to expand a child’s imagination. To make illustration approachable, what is required is a delicate balance between realism and abstraction.”
Lamothe, who has co-authored several books, said: “My approach to writing non-fiction is akin toworking on a documentary film. Much energy goes into researching, interviewing and writing the story.”
Dr. Wafa Al-Shamsi, a poet and professor at UAE University in Al Ain, said that the ideas for her books often come from listening to and playing with her children.“The challenge is to understand how children think, and how much they can process,” she said, while describing her methodology in writing a book for children on health issues that impact their grandparents or the elderly.
“Non-fiction books must strive for accuracy and deliver the right information in an interesting manner,”she added. “What is most important is to inject fun and a sense of humour into the work so childrenenjoy it.”
Al-Shamsifurther noted: “Technology is the language of the modern age; but I believe that books will continue to be around if educators and parents inculcate the habit of reading at an early age.”
Several such inspiring cultural debates and discussions are taking place on a daily basis at SCRF 2021, not only at the festival’s main venue, Expo Centre Sharjah, but at several locations in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah, as well as in Sharjah’s eastern towns of Dibba Al Hisn and Kalba. For more information, please visit the festival’s socials @sharjahbookauthority.