A feast of reading comes to Al Ain next month, in the shape of a book show designed to both stimulate children's imaginations and offer adult readers more choices. Kitab, which organises the Abu Dhabi Book Fair and is a joint venture between the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach) and the Frankfurt Book Fair, will present Al Ain Reads, a week-long event beginning on October 4 at Bawadi Mall.
The show will feature 25 local publishers and distributors, as well as activities designed to entice children to read more. Monika Krauss, the general manager of Kitab, said: "Al Ain has never had a book show on this scale before, so this is a very important cultural step. "We will have part of our focus on children's books, workshops and incentives to get them reading as the new school year starts, but we are also very much in town for readers of all ages.
"The books on sale will be in English and in Arabic and will come solely from local Arab exhibitors. As there are not that many book stores in Al Ain as yet, this will be a good occasion to find books they haven't been able to buy before. "Not everyone from Al Ain comes to Abu Dhabi or Dubai on a regular basis, so we wanted to bring the books to them. One of our goals is to promote reading; in order to be able to read you need books and a choice of books.
"There has been nothing in Al Ain like this so far. It will also be a good opportunity for the distributors to reach a new audience." For the children, a storyteller will recount local folklore and fairy tales from around the world during the mornings. There will also be daily illustration workshops called Colour Abu Dhabi. The cartoon character Hamdoon will pay regular visits, and there will be a Kitab bus filled with donated books for the children to browse through.
The bus, sponsored by Zayed Giving, will be parked outside the mall every morning and set up with a comfortable, shaded area for readings. Visiting Swiss and German authors will read to the children in English and a translator will be on hand to relay the stories in Arabic. Volunteers will be on hand to advise the children about the most suitable books for helping them with their learning. Ms Krauss said the Kitab bus was one of the most important additions to the show.
"Until they get to a certain age children just look at images and colours, but we want them to be aware of what is good for them. For example if we can direct them to fairy tales with moral messages this is better for them than a colouring book. "If they can spend time with the Kitab bus then they can get used to looking at books on shelves, as if they were in a library and we can train them to become familiar. The overall aim is to have them inspired."
After the Al Ain show the Kitab bus will travel to the capital for a week and in November it will spend a week touring Al Gharbia. Other features of the show will include a book exchange where readers can swap books. "It is just another way of helping people make the most of books they love," said Ms Krauss. There will also be an arts and crafts area, a cultural village and theatre performances, as well as etiquette workshops for children.