Read on, kids! Arabic children's literature award announces shortlist

Published October 17th, 2015 - 05:29 GMT

The Arab World’s premier prize for Arabic Children’s Literature, the Etisalat Award, has announced the names of books shortlisted for its 7th edition.

A Saudi book “Tea Party in Cinderella’s Palace” by Arwa Khamis and published by a Saudi publisher has been shortlisted for the Young Adult Book Category. The winners of the region’s premier literary prize for children’s literature will be announced during the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) next month.

The announcement was attended by Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah at the Frankfurt International Book Fair in Germany.

The shortlist winners were announced in the presence of Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al-Qasimi, founder and patron of the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), Abdulaziz Taryam, CEO advisor and general manager in the Northern Emirates at Etisalat, Marwa Obaid Al-Aqroubi, president of the UAEBBY Executive Board and a large number of international media representatives, international publishers and visitors to the fair.

Sheikha Bodour emphasized that the Etisalat Award for Children’s Literature will carry on with the mission it started seven years ago, to develop Arab children’s books by motivating professionals in this sector to release high quality books in terms of both content and design in order to inspire, educate and motivate the next generation of young Arabs to live up to the aspirations of a better future.

“The main goal of the award is to provide outstanding Arab books that can attract children to read, while developing their cognitive abilities. Today, we see publishers, authors and illustrators show ever greater interest in participating in the award, and they are producing high quality titles for children and adolescents,” she said.

Sheikha Bodour added that this growing interest has resulted in publishing professionals from beyond the Arab World entering the competition. “This is evident by entries from the UK and Canada which are participating in the award for the first time, along with 10 Arab countries.”

“The future depends on the development of our children and we know that reading is a fundamental tool, and learned skill, that will improve intellect, garner knowledge and increase the capabilities of our youth. Therefore, we must continue working on development of Arab children’s books for the future of our nations.”

Abdulaziz Taryam said: “The Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature has contributed positively to the cultural and social change that we aspire to bring about in the Arab world, by enriching the content of children’s and young adult’s books and increasing their appeal. The award plays a prominent role in encouraging publishers, authors and illustrators to enhance the Arabic children’s book library with creative titles, and to provide texts that help unlock the potential of our talented youth. We aim to encourage those working in the children’s book industry to show off their skills and allow them the opportunity to hone and develop their talent.”

This year’s edition saw strong competition between 97 entries in both children’s book and young adult categories from 12 Arab countries, namely the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, the UK and Canada, with 62 books in the children’s book category and 35 books in the young adult category.

Lebanon is in the lead in terms of shortlisted books nominated to win the award with five books, followed by Egypt and Palestine with two books, and finally Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, with one book each.

The AED1 million Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature is distributed as follows: AED 300,000 for the Children’s Book of the year, to be distributed equally between the author, illustrator and publisher (AED 100,000 each); AED 200,000 for the Young Adult Book of the year, to be distributed equally between the author and publisher (100,000 AED each); and 300,000 AED for the Best Text, Best Illustration, and Best Production categories (100,000 AED each). The remaining Dhs200, 000 is set aside for workshops on writing, illustration, and production aimed at nurturing and inspiring the next generation of young Arab talent in the children’s book industry.

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