Sunday, October 21, 2007

Books for Children in Saudi Arabia

"With many Saudi writers of the new generation showing tendencies toward taboo subjects such as sex, religion, and politics, others have chosen to concentrate on different areas and write for children. Numbers of young Saudi young writers target the new generation; however, their work faces problem in reaching children as reading is not yet a pastime for most Saudi children.

"Though reading remains at the bottom of parents' and educational institutions' priorities, Wafa Kamel, Executive Director of "Annabtah" Publishing Company which specializes in children's literature, pointed out that there are local publishing and distribution companies as well as annual children's books exhibitions. [...]

"For many years there were no Saudis writing for children for the simple reason that there was no financial reward in doing so. That, however, is changing now and there are Saudi writers who write for Saudi children on subjects that the children know and understand.

"Mona Alosaymi, a 28 year-old, is an artist [...]. She says, 'Every culture requires dealing with different subjects and that's why it is important for Saudis to write for children and discuss issues that are of concern to our society'. She published her first children's story last September; it deals with phenomena that is widespread among Saudi children. 'It's common for many children feel inferior to others of different colors, family names, or income levels. The story highlighted the criteria that one should be called 'a better person' based on ethics and behaviors and on nothing else'.

"Yousif Almohaimeed is another Saudi writer. He admits that foreign characters and stories translated from other languages are still the most popular among Arab children. He explained this by saying that although some Arabic children's books are as good as any foreign ones, they are not widely read by Arab children. He says that this is because foreign children's books often includes a range of subjects that children enjoy. 'Arabic stories, on the other hand,' he said, 'tend to be either religious or strictly educational. He stressed that reading translated books is not negative, especially if the book deals with human experience which all children are familiar with."At the same time,' he pointed out, 'our books should be a display of our experience and our view of the world'."
Source: Arab News (Saudi Arabia)