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‘Didn’t choose kids field, I was chosen by God!’
BY SALMA ALALEM November 12, 2015
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SHARJAH: Rania Zaghir, a Lebanese writer and publisher of children books, has been invited, by “Knowledge without Borders” group, to visit Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).

Rania told The Gulf Today, “It’s my second time to be in SIBF, and I’ve been invited to many book fairs. However, SIBF is the best, biggest, and most unique fair around the Arab world.”

She said that she is thankful to “Knowledge without Borders” for extending this invitation. “I’m in love with their work and their initiative of distributing 50,000 books to families in Sharjah. Indeed, this initiative has had a great level of reading impact in Sharjah.”

She added that “Knowledge without Borders” were sponsoring her CD of audio books collection, entitled “Ren Ren ya Jaras.”

When asked about the most interesting part of the SIBF this year, she replied, “the cultural programme is very diverse, attractive, and it has a huge focus on children.”

Several of Zaghir’s books have been translated into 20 different languages, and her books have earned numerous awards. Lately, her book “Haltabees Haltabees” earned the Berlin International Literature Festival Book Award (The Extraordinary Book 2015). 

She is also the co-founder and curator of the International biannual children’s literature conference known as: What a Story! And she established a national book charity: Libraries of Hope in 2013.

Consequentially, Zaghir founded Al Khayyat Al Saghir Publishing House, in 2007, which devotes special attention to picture books of engaging, quality literary material that aim to develop the Arab child’s artistic and social awareness.

When asked about the reason behind her passion and interest in children books, she said “I didn’t choose kids field, I was chosen by God!”

Asking about the level of children books in the Arab world, she said that children books are in the process of development already, and that she is optimistic about the initiative of Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi and “Knowledge without Borders.”

Many publishers and authors suffer from censorship on their books. Zaghir mentioned that she finds censorship as one of the biggest challenges and problems. “Teachers think that all children books have to educational, but I believe that these books should be made for fun to let the kids enjoy reading, and should be different from usual curriculum books.”

On the impact of technology and that many kids tend to play or use tablets, sh said, “Technology is not a problem for me because my publishing house is working on e-books versions as a helpful way to achieve the goal of reading.”

At the end of the interview, Zaghir advised the audience saying, “Be true to your writings.”

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