UAE reveals first homegrown 'silent books'

Wordless picture books initiative started out as way to help refugee children arriving in Europe from Africa and the Middle East
UAE reveals first homegrown 'silent books'
By Sam Bridge
Mon 28 May 2018 02:20 PM

The UAE has achieved a new literary milestone by bringing out its first three homegrown silent books.

Supported by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), the three wordless picture books elevate the UAE’s international stature as a hub of literary innovation and appeal, especially in the children’s books industry, a statement said.

The Silent Books project started out as an initiative by the International Board on Books for Young People in 2012 in Lampedusa, the largest Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea and the prime gateway for African and Middle Eastern refugees making their way into Europe.

It was aimed at providing refugee children on the island with a collection of wordless picture books to flip through, interact with and enjoy, irrespective of their mother tongue.

The three titles from the UAE include "Night and Day" written by Emirati writer and illustrator Alia Al Shamsi and published by Al Hudhud Publishing and Distribution, "Fly" and "Oh! It’s Becoming Bigger," both written and illustrated by Alia Al Badi and published by Al Fulk Translation and Publishing.

The UAEBBY said its support for these books is in line with its commitment to developing the capabilities of illustrators and writers of children’s literature in the UAE.

Marwa Al Aqroubi, president of the UAEBBY, said: "We are happy to have facilitated the release of the first Emirati silent books, which are such a powerful medium of communication with children, no matter their age, background or literacy levels.

"The images in these books spark the children’s imaginations and are open to their unique interpretation. We hope this initiative will motivate several other Emirati writers and illustrators to give these kinds of books with unrivalled human and social dimensions a try, and through their work, they will help build bridges between diverse civilisations and cultures."

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