CANA Conference explores the cultural significance of reading and books | CANA Conference explores the cultural significance of reading and books -
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CANA Conference explores the cultural significance of reading and books

United Arab Emirates: Sunday, April 28 - 2013 @ 10:34

The conference began with a discussion on the topic ‘Every Child Has the Right to Become a Reader – Books for Children with Disabilities’ introduced by Mohammed Al Nabulsi from Jordan, Marketing Officer of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services. The Egyptian educational expert, trainer, and consultant, Dr. Nadia Adib Bamieh, discussed the idea of children with disabilities authoring their own books, and explained the details of the process.

Fatima Shaheen from Lebanon, Head of Libraries Section of Al Hadi Association, discussed the need for braille and audio books for the visually impaired, while Raouf Karray, an illustrator and professor at the Higher Institute of Arts and Crafts in Sfax, Tunisia, spoke about ‘Touch Pictures’ for braille books, and creating tactile educational tools. Philippe Claudet, the French publisher, teacher, author, and translator, provided in-depth information on the creation illustrated books for the visually impaired.

The second session, titled ‘Intercultural Dialogue and Tolerance in Children’s Books’, was moderated by Salha Obaid Ghabbish, a poet, writer, and playwright from the United Arab Emirates, who is also the Cultural Advisor to the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. The first two speakers addressed the theme of inclusion throughout children’s literature, as it relates to the differently abled. Nada Barakat Khawaja, an educator and author from Lebanon, and an Advocate for People with Disabilities, defined what comprises ‘Inclusive Books’ that promote tolerance and understanding of diversity. Sahar Tarhandeh, the researcher and executive committee member of the IBBY National Section in Iran, brought to light the negative shades given to characters with disability in children’s picture books in Iran.

Amal Farah, an author of children’s books and the Deputy Managing Editor of Disney Magazines in Egypt, questioned the concept of cultural competition or ‘The Other’, and the lack of understanding and tolerance of Arab literature in the Western world. Fadia Hoteit, an author and researcher from Lebanon, examined the absence of the culturally different ‘Other’ in the world of Arab children’s books, and discussed the need to expand horizontally to include the world in them.

‘Folklore and Oral History: Transporting Spoken Traditions to the Written Page’ was the topic of discussion of the third session of the morning, which was moderated by Abdulaziz Al Musallam, a writer, poet, and folklore historian from the United Arab Emirates. Asma Abdul Latif Al Kuwari, the director of Centre for Children’s Literature in Qatar, Amina Hachimi Alaoui, a Moroccon based publisher and bookseller, Salwa Shakhshir, a publisher from Jordan and Abdalsalam Nakhla, National Reading Campaign Director, Tamer Institute for Community Education, spoke during the session.

The fourth session for the day began with four guest speakers discussing the topic ‘Publishing for children: are we keeping up with new prospects?’ Jordanian Rawan Barakat, founder and director of Raneen Foundation- which produces audio books for children; Shereen Kreidieh, a Lebanese based publisher; Linah Awad, a professor from the University of Jordan; Iranian web developer and children’s literature expert/researcher Mahshid Dowlat; Marjan Foroughi, a web developer and animation screenwriter, another Iranian. Tamer Said from Egypt, the Business Development Manager of Kalimat Publishing in the United Arab Emirates, moderated the session.

The last two sessions of the day were panel discussions in which leading authors, illustrators and publishers from the CANA region shared the stage with board members of National Sections of IBBY.

The first panel discussion was on ‘Illustrations in Children’s Books – A World of Words’, in which Intelaq’s Mohammed Ali, an illustrator, graphic designer, animation artist, and author of a number of books from Iraq participated, along with Thuraya Adel Batterjee from Saudi Arabia who has illustrated five children’s books and established Kadi and Ramadi, a publishing house specialized in children’s books, Alireza Goldouzian, a well-known and honoured children’s book illustrator from Iran, and Loujaina Al-Assil from Syria, who has illustrated seventy children’s books and received national and international honours. The session was moderated by Nasir Ahmed Nasrallah, an artist, illustrator, publisher, as well as a board member of the IBBY National Section in the UAE.

‘Has Politics Found Its Way into Children’s Books?’ was the topic of discussion of the second panel discussion, and the last session of the First IBBY Conference for the Region of Central Asia and North Africa (CANA), which was moderated by Jamal Shehhi, an author and publisher from the UAE, and the founder of Kuttab Publishing House. The speakers included Amira Aboulmagd, Amira Aboulmagd from Egypt, a board member and the Managing Director of Dar El-Shorouk publishing house and bookstores, Patricia Aldana, the founder of Groundwood Books, Canada, as well as the President of IBBY Foundation, Jehan Helou, an activist in the field of community education and children’s literature and President of IBBY National Section in Palestine as well as Fatima Sharafeddine, a celebrated writer and translator of Arabic children’s books with over 90 published titles to her name.

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Sunday, April 28- 2013 @ 10:34 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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