The festival, organised by Sharjah Book Authority, runs from April 18–28 at Expo Centre Sharjah, and is the jewel in the crown of children’s literature events in the region. The delegation from Italy, including Dr. Marcella Terrusi, Representative of the Italian Board on Books for Young People (IBBY Italy) will take part in panel discussions, storytelling and book signings at the UAEBBY stand.
Accompanying Dr. Terrusi are well-known author Beatrice Masini, who has produced over ten books in children’s literature and won the prestigious Andersen Prize as “best children's author of the year in 2004”; and young illustrator Andrea Antinori, who shared the Andersen prize for "best book 6/9 years" with other celebrated Italian publishers and authors. A collection of the celebrated works by them will be showcased at the UAEBBY stand, and several storytelling sessions and other book activities around them will be organised for children during the festival.
Elena Pasoli, Manager of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and children’s book expert Grazia Gotti are also part of the Italian delegation to the UAE.
In hosting IBBY Italy as Guests of Honour at SCRF, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the UAEBBY encourages new relationships with different sections of IBBY, inspires local talent to explore new literary cultures, and promotes a culture of reading across the UAE’s many diverse communities.
The Guest of Honour programme is being organised by the UAEBBY in partnership with the Italian General Consulate in the UAE, and the Dubai-based multilingual international school, International Concept for Education (ICE), which opened their Italian section ‘Da Vinci’ in 2016.
Welcoming this collaboration between the two national sections of the IBBY, Valentina Setta, Consul General of Italy in Dubai, said: “IBBY Italy’s participation at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival as the UAEBBY’s guest of honour is another big step in furthering cultural cooperation between the UAE and Italy. We are pleased to facilitate this collaboration between the two cultures to benefit and enrich young minds with a variety of new literary experiences, which will broaden their horizons, enable them to experience a different culture, and develop appreciation for diversity at a young age.”
Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY, said: “Italy has played a key role in the evolution of European literature and has inspired countless generations from a tremendous range of cultures. To be able to tap into such a rich history is enormously beneficial to the children, regional authors, illustrators, and publishers who attend the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival”.
“The initiative also has major benefits to the Guest of Honour country, who will be able to engage directly with their target audience and explore the similarities and differences in reading cultures. For UAEBBY, there is an opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences with other international sections and gain in-depth insights into literature from around the world.”
During their visit, the Italian representatives will meet with Emirati authors and illustrators, take part in a cultural tour to the emirate of Sharjah, and attend the opening ceremony of the Italian Library.
The UAEBBY’s “Guest of Honour” initiative, which began in 2015 seeks to cultivate new relationships with different IBBY sections, allow local talent to learn from the experience of international experts, and encourage reading among UAE’s diverse communities.