The 2022 edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival took place between May 14, 2022 and May 22, 2022.
Among the participants was our author Chris Okemwa, whose participated was through nomination through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) Book Club, Africa Chapter and Borders Literature for All Nations, the book club publicist. Two other authors from Africa participated alongside Okemwa, namely South Africa’s Lorato Trok and Tunisia’s Mizouni Bannani, the 2021 winner of the Sheikh Zayed Prize in the category of Children’s Literature.
Two of Okemwa’s books that we published have been picked by African Chapter of the SDG Book Club. The title are Sabina The Rain Girl (Nsemia Inc., 2021) and Chubot, The Cursed One & Other Stories (Nsemia Inc, 2011). Sabina the Rain Girl was selected in the category of SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) while Chubot the Cursed One & Other Stories was selected in in the category of SDG 5 (Gender Equality). It is worth noting that Sabina the Rain Girl was preceded in publication by Sabina and the Mystery of the Ogre (Nsemia Inc, 2015) than won the 2015 Burt Award for African Literature and that both titles have now been translated into Kiswahili.
Okemwa’s speaks glowingly of his experience in Sharjah, and especially with respect to the levels of participation by government, publishers and schools in making the festival a reality. It is noteworthy that the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival is sponsored by the ruler of the Sharjah Emirate, Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi. He further observes that he was deeply impressed by the children’s interest in reading, with some saying they are waiting for his next children’s book!
Okemwa confesses to feeling challenged by the entire experience: from the smooth organization of the festival, the enthusiasm of participants and, perhaps most importantly, the thirst for reading shown by the children. He concludes that there is a lot the book industry stakeholders (authors, publishers, schools, government and the public) can learn from such experiences. In that respect he encourages similar exchanges for purposes of sharing experiences and learning from others.
We are proud to be associated with the publication of many of his works.