The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) hosted representatives from the French chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) as its guests of honour during the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival and several school visits from April 25th to April 30th.
The French guests were Hasmig Chahinian, head of IBBY France, Claire Ubac, a prize-winning children’s book author, and Antoine Guilloppé, a well-known illustrator for children’s and young adult literature.
The French IBBY guests held storytelling sessions, read excerpts from French children’s novels and signed books for students at the Children’s Reading Festival in Sharjah and Lycée Georges Pompidou in Sharjah and Dubai, as well as Lycée Français International Aflec, Alliance Française, and Culture & Co in Dubai. They also toured Old Sharjah and became acquainted with its traditional sites and landmarks.
Through this initiative, the UAEBBY and IBBY France sought to encourage reading among French-speaking students in the UAE and introduce new children’s literature.
Speaking on the visit, Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY, remarked, “Providing high quality children’s books for youth in the region and beyond in order to inspire a love of reading is our main goal. As there is a diverse community of French speakers in the UAE, we want to ensure French children’s books and young adult novels are available in all our French schools and educational institutions. The visit from IBBY France and very talented members of the French literary community was effective in stimulating young minds and feeding students’ imaginations in Sharjah and Dubai.”
Hasmig Chahinian agreed that the trip was successful and added, “Visiting the UAE to discuss the merits of reading to French educated children was extremely rewarding, and we received a positive response from those who were looking for quality French books for children and young adults. Students were excited to receive new books that contained interesting themes and vibrant artwork, as were visitors of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival who were able to learn or enhance their French language skills.”
Hasmig Chahinian also warmly thanked the UAEBBY for its kind invitation, which allowed the two IBBY sections to work together to promote high quality books and reading among children. She further stated that she looks forward to future opportunities to work on joint projects with UAEBBY.
In line with its work in literary and cultural education, the UAEBBY provided all the French schools visited by IBBY France with a wide range of French books. Additionally, Antoine Guilloppé exhibited his artwork beside the UAEBBY stand at the festival.