The Arabic Book Fair will be the first of its kind in the UK. The main aim of the event is to connect the Arab community, and people interested in learning Arabic, with the leading Children’s publishers from the Middle East. The event will also feature a number of UK retailers and publishers of Arabic and Arabic bilingual books, as well as Arabic publishers from Sweden and France.
The Arab Community in Britain has over 700,000 members most of whom live in the Central and Greater London area. A survey of the London Arabic schools has revealed a great interest by the schools in the event, many of whom go to great length to source books due to limited and patchy UK supply. The target audience for the Fair are predominantly Arabic speakers and those seeking to learn Arabic.
The concept for the Arabic Book Fair grew out of the frustration of parents in the UK trying to find Arabic books for their children. This unique event is being organised by Fe Britannia (translated means “In Britain” in Arabic), a group of British-Arab Mothers.
“We were raised in the UK and know firsthand the challenges that our families faced in teaching us Arabic as children; as parents we are determined not only to ensure that our children learn Arabic too, but that we make it easier for a whole generation of parents raising Arabic speakers in the UK”, Rasha Khalil.
The challenges parents face are not only getting hold of Arabic books, but getting hold of books that capture the imagination of the young reader. Many children in the UK don’t like Arabic books because of a certain perception shared by the parent and child- that Arabic is boring, the vocabulary is difficult and the books are ugly. Although there are fantastic Arabic books that dispel this often held negative belief, with a burgeoning new breed of young female Arab publishers that are determined to engage children in reading Arabic.
One of the organisers of the Fair, Rasha Khalil said: “We have been overwhelmed at the positive response from the publishers in the Middle East and Europe, but what surprised us more was finding such a large number children’s books published by Middle Eastern women, some of whom are mothers who wanted to provide the best for their children, just as we do – and why we are organising the first Arabic Book Fair in the UK.”
This quiet revolution in Arabic children’s books has been noted by the Arabic Book Fair organisers, who are determined not only to provide parents and teachers with a single place to view/buy a wide range of books, but also to support these smaller publishers and bring them to a wider UK audience.
Arabic language books will be on sale. The event will focus on children’s Arabic books (in Arabic and Bilingual Arabic/English), a particularly underserved area in the UK. Books exhibited will include a range of children’s stories, religious stories, activity books, Educational CDs and study guides for all age groups. The latest in language learning tools will be demonstrated during the Fair.
It promises to be a fun day out for the all the family, with free children’s book readings held hourly, children’s movie screening and music throughout the day. Tickets cost £5 on the door (free entry for under-12s), or £2 if booked via website – www.arabicbookfair.com