At this year’s Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, running April 23rd through May 4th, attendees have the opportunity to attend Cultural Programs covering a wide range of topics, including “The Absence of Arabic Childhood Protection and Strategies to Bring it Back,’ “Arab Children’s Magazine – Between Prosperity and Decline,” and “Creating a Fantasy World for Today’s Children.”
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On Thursday, April 25th, panelists from Britain, Australia, Tunisia, and Morocco examined the subject “The Important Elements of Childhood,” each bringing to the panel their own unique perspective.
Abdulrzaaq Kamoon of Tunisia author, storyteller, and founding member of Safaqis Children’s Book Society, after reminding authors and parents that “what you have in your heart is a child,” and discussing the changing roles of school, parents, family and books, placed special emphasis on what he called the three essentials: milk, kindness, and stories.
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But it was perhaps British author Terence Blacker, best known for his Ms. Wiz series of books (Fantastic Fiction), who came closest to most directly answering the question at hand. After reminding the audience that people who write for children are “slightly odd,” he quickly honed in on what he saw as the five elements that are most important, both in stories and in life.
2. Power. Children should know that they do have power.
3. Self worth. Children need to know that they are not alone, that who they are matters.
4. Humor. Even if, and perhaps particular if serious, a little bit of humor is essential.
5. Kindness or love or hope. If you’re not teaching children that, either as a writer or parent, you’re not doing your job.