Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival discusses ideas for creating memorable characters in children’s books

Sharjah, May 23, 2021

The 12th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), which has expanded its outreach this year across several emirates in the UAE, hosted Egyptian novelist Tayeb Adib, and Claudia Rueda, a Colombian picture book author and illustrator, at a panel discussion at the Al Safa Art and Design Library in Dubai as part of its cultural programming agenda.

Titled ‘Bringing Stories to Life’, the session moderated by Dr. Lamia Tawfik, explored the critical components required to create well-written and memorable characters in children’s books while also incorporating a strong moral or message in the story.

Describing illustrations as the “heartbeat” that brings stories to life in children’s books, author Claudia Rueda said: “Images and characters have a key role in storytelling as they enhance a child’s perception of the story.”

“Building characters in children’s books is a complex process, and authors must give due thought to the nature and type of characters to be introduced to communicate their messages and ideas in an efficient manner,” she added. 

Rueda remarked that she prefers to create animal characters because they are fun and holds the interest of young kids. Simple and clear profile features for protagonist characters helps kindle a bond with children who are more likely to understand and accept what it says, she added.

Speaking at the session, author Tayeb Adib said: “Vibrant illustrations and relatable characters play a key role in nurturing creativity and imagination.  Stories are therefore an important educational tool whose impact is intensified when adapted to the screen as a series or film.”

Tayeb Adib pointed out that as children love adventures and enjoy exploring new ideas, it is essential to fulfil their ambitions through stories. The lack of appropriate illustrations may weaken the appeal of a book, he added, calling on authors to avoid the excessive use of negative characterisation in children’s books.

Emphasising that the process of building characters needs careful consideration, both guests highlighted the importance of reviewing the book’s characters before publication to ensure that they can both engage and delight young readers. 

Hosting many Arab and international authors, SCRF 2021 will hold cultural sessions and workshops at Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah as well as the cities of Kalba and Dibba Al Hisn in Sharjah until May 29

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