Pick up a book, put down the iPad

Amman International Book Fair sparks junior reading renaissance

Amman International Book Fair sparks junior reading renaissance 04
(Photos: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
The question "What should juniors be reading?" sparked significant interest among attendees at the 22nd Amman International Book Fair. In today's digital age, a new term has emerged in conversations among parents: "iPad kids." This term refers to children who are constantly immersed in their screens, seemingly disconnected from the world around them. For the age group ranging from 9 to 17, the book fair provides an excellent opportunity to engage children, tweens, and teens in reading and steer them away from the digital realm.اضافة اعلان

For publishers, engaging with this group of readers is a current focus. Abeer Al Arab from Dar Shan publishing house, in an interview with Jordan News, highlighted their specialization in creating content for the junior age group, which often lacks literature that resonates with their lives. Arab pointed out that books targeting younger children and youth are readily available but expressed concern about juniors' limited enthusiasm for reading. She noted that those who do read tend to gravitate towards popular books aimed at older youths, which may contain inappropriate content, raising concerns for parents.

Their goal: entice juniors to pick up a book
To address these issues, Dar Shan has taken the initiative to publish approximately 100 novels tailored to juniors. Their goal is to entice juniors to pick up a book, with an emphasis on imparting morals and values. Arab is actively working on releasing religious and historical books suitable for juniors. Marketing these books to appeal to this age group is a top priority for Arab, as bestsellers are what attract most readers in today's market.

Proceed with caution on translated works
Regarding translated books in Arabic, Arab advised caution, as they often miss the mark in terms of the region's cultural values and morals. Instead, she highlighted collaborations with renowned authors such as Omayma Al Nasser, Abdullah Jad’an, Tariq Al Bakri, and Ashraf Al Khudari, who are creating content specifically for juniors. The topics covered in these books are diverse, addressing issues such as bullying, mother-daughter relationships, and family values, among others. Each novel and book contain at least one valuable lesson and includes colorful illustrations to captivate young readers.

Read a book, learn a lesson, or two
In terms of book recommendations from the fair, "Weird Events at Our Street" by Ahmad Abdul Rahim caught our attention. This creative narrative revolves around a town plagued by untidy streets due to residents' negligence. An intriguing character, "a weird man," secretly cleans the streets at night, leading to unexpected questions and an impactful moral lesson.

Another engaging story by Rahim, titled "A Wonderland for Sale!", conveys the age-old proverb "as you sow, so shall you reap." It follows a character named Makhlouf, who discovers the true purpose of a land that yields an abundance of whatever is planted in it, offering valuable life lessons along the way. These lessons are tailored to the intended age group, making the stories enjoyable for both juniors and adult readers.

400 publishing houses from 22 countries worldwide
Regarding the book fair's atmosphere, Nichola Akel, general manager of Al-Ruaa Publishing House, noted that the majority of book-goers tend to be women, aligning with a global trend highlighting a gender gap in readership. He observed that men often focus more on practical matters.

As for the fair's turnout, Akel mentioned that there are relatively few book buyers, with most attendees seeking the social atmosphere and enjoying various activities on offer. The fair concluded on September 30, 2023, featuring 400 publishing houses from 22 countries worldwide.

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