For the First time in Eastern Province: Ithra launches Children’s Book Fair
- Hosting 10 local, regional and international publishing houses in inaugural edition.
- Hosting the world’s youngest novelist to share her experience.
As part of the national reading competition iRead, now in its seventh year, King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) inaugurates its Children’s Book Fair which will take place from October 11-16, 2021 with an international participation from Belgium in order to have a closer look at Belgian culture and celebrate the Belgian contribution to the field of children’s literature through characters who inspired generations of young readers such as Tintin and the Smurfs.
The fair will host 10 local and international publishing houses specialized in children’s literature. The fair serves children from 4-14 years old through a series of programs, events, workshops and meetups that cater to children and their families. It also aims to inspire children and grow their interest in reading and exploration, as well as nurture their reading interest via through varied and up-to-date methods.
The six-day Children’s Book Fair is the first of its kind in the Eastern Province. It will provide children with a collection of interactive activities to nurture young talent, as well as expanding reading skills, production and knowledge exchange by building concepts that elevate reading and exploration skills.
Affirming Ithra’s belief in children’s capacities and in celebration of their literary achievements, the fair will host the renowned Saudi novelist Ritaj Al Hazmi, who received the title of the world’s youngest novelist, to share her experience before and after receiving the title, with other children.
Speaking at the launch of the fair, Belgium’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, HE Dominique Mineur, said: “It is a special honor for me and for Belgian to be chosen to be here today.”
She added: “The role Ithra is playing is unique as it is shedding light on the cultural and the hidden gems of the Saudi Kingdom, inspiring minds and empowering talents.”
Mineur added: “I commend Ithra for promoting a good reading culture among the young generation.”
Reflecting on over a century of links, she remarked: “Ever since our friendship ties were established in 1919, our two Kingdoms of Belgium and Saudi Arabia have striven to achieve the true spirit of partnership on many levels and that of course includes cultural ones.“
In his speech at the Children’s Book Fair, Ithra’s Head of Programs, Dr. Ashraf Fagih, stressed that reading is for all ages and generations and that the exhibition is designed to meet the requirements of young readers, to celebrate their reading prowess and enhance their abilities in enjoying the written word. He thanked the publishing houses participating, and said: “ Let us establish our children with their feet on the beginning of this road: in the homeland of creativity, culture and art.”
To complement the role of the library and instill the love of reading, the Center will feature interactive activities such as “Story Cubes,” which aim to teach children the basics of writing stories through play. The Center will offer an educational game on a monthly basis to nurture skills related to innovation and imagination, as well as promoting participation and teamwork. The fair will also include a book signing activity for the book “Jumana, the Girl Who Has Grown Up Enough” by Salma Bukhamsin, who will also narrate the story to children and discuss it and its elements in a way suitable for the young audience.
Stories and storytellers will enjoy a distinctive presence at the fair, with workshops taking place such as “You’re the Storyteller” which will educate parents on how to choose the perfect time and place to read a story, and how to read it in a way that fires up children’s passions and their interest in reading. “Create your Library” will also be dedicated to parents who want to learn how to collect and arrange books creatively.
The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) aims to enrich Saudi society by providing quality initiatives and programs that cater to all segments of society, with quality knowledge content, in line with Ithra’s vision of nurturing creativity and new visions in the fields of thought, culture and innovation. The Center is a creative hub, where talents of all ages come together to learn and experiment in an effort to give new generations the ability to shape the future of the Kingdom. Ithra is a major cultural beacon that emphasizes the importance of meaningful dialogue and thought exchange.