Children learnt the importance of their imagination when reading a book, during an author and students session on the seventh day of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, which runs until April 28 at Expo Centre Sharjah.
Jen Banyard, an Australian adventure novel author for young readers, started off her session by asking her audience of students whether they have ever cried, laughed or been afraid when reading a book. She explained that the mind processes the words that we read very efficiently. “Our imaginations are so powerful that they convince our body that we are actually experiencing what we are reading,” Banyard said.
The children were taught about the significance of giving themselves space, being quiet and avoiding having too much sensory input going into their head. The objective is to let themselves daydream. “It is one of the most beautiful things about being young before we get too busy with life’s pressures,” she went on. “Do not underestimate how important daydreaming is.”
The students were told that turning off their digital screens and letting their mind wonder was vital. “That’s how I come up with ideas for my books, just brainstorming in my own mind,” she said.
As she showed the youngsters an upside-down map of the world, her aim was to explain the importance of seeing matters from a different perspective. “It’s still correct,” she explained. “Thoughts shouldn’t be jammed in a usual box that we are presented with, we have to find new shapes for our thoughts.”
During the interactive session, children were randomly given nouns, verbs and adjectives, with the aim of encouraging them to use their creativity to form sentences. “We must find out what kind of image these random words come up with,” Banyard said. “This helps to drive our imagination out of the box.”
The festival’s events span several programmes, under the main themes of Kids Activities, Cultural Programmes, Cultural Café, Kids' Creative Café, Social Media Café and Cookery Corner. SCRF 2018 also features a series of international theatrical performances like ‘Tuta and Monkey Cheetah’, and the ‘Island of Kids’ Area’ that combine education, fun and entertainment to highlight the values of honesty to young visitors.
A prime highlight of the festival this year is its first ever 3D Book Exhibition, featuring 250 pop-up books from the 3D Book Center in Forli, Italy. The books have been handpicked by the exhibition curators to represent eight different periods of time. One of SCRF’s mainstays, the Sharjah Exhibition for Children’s Books Illustrations, is featuring 355 artworks by 104 illustrators from 32 countries this year.