The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), in collaboration with the Sharjah World Book Capital Office (SWBCO), has curated a 50-title Silent Book Exhibition at the ongoing 29th edition of Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF 2019), running from 24 to 30 April 2019.
In the past couple of years, UAEBBY - the UAE’s national section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) - has been engaging publishers, authors, readers, and cultural institutions in the UAE and raising awareness about the ‘silent’ or wordless book genre. It has remained an uncharted literary territory in the country until UAEBBY hosted the first-ever Silent Book Exhibition in the UAE in August 2017.
The ADIBF 2019 participation is a continuation of these efforts, showcasing to visitors how silent books are ever-increasing in popularity. The books are creating a huge impact in stimulating children’s imaginations, encouraging them to take flight and find inspiration in these pictures to write their own stories.
Hugo Setzer, President, International Publishers Association (IPA), and Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Vice President, IPA, visited the exhibition, which in addition to seven silent books written by
UAE-based authors, features 50 books chosen from submissions made by IBBY National Sections around the world.
The birth of IBBY Silent Book Exhibition back in 2012 was in response to the wave of refugees, particularly children, arriving to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Their aim was to give these children a way to enjoy the universal language of beautifully illustrated stories and open the stories to interpretation and sharing.
By bringing this exhibition to ADIBF 2019, UAEBBY seeks to shed light on how these illustration-only books have helped the unprecedented wave of refugees across the world cope with their struggles. It also aims to stimulate local efforts to support more original literary creation in the silent books genre, thereby, promoting the UAE’s strategy to develop the nation’s cultural landscape.
Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of UAEBBY and Project Manager of Sharjah World Book Capital 2019, said: “Our participation in Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) seeks to support the silent books industry in the UAE, encourage the exchange of knowledge and expertise, and develop the capabilities of silent book illustrators, authors and publishers.”
She added: “Children’s imagination and engagement with the illustrctions featured in the silent books defies the rules of conventional reading and adds new dimensions to the story that go beyond words. UAEBBY has been focusing strongly on supporting silent books because of their literary and human values that transcends the barriers of language and depends on the power of pictures that are rich with visual language to tell the stories.”