Human imagination will keep the art of writing alive, note children’s writers at SIBF 2023
SIBF 2023

Human imagination will keep the art of writing alive, note children’s writers at SIBF 2023

Nov 6, 2023

Young Adult authors from the UAE and Korea discuss the benefits of reading books for an enriching childhood at Sharjah International Book FAir

Machines cannot replace human imagination and creativity to provide storylines with a human
touch in the era of artificial intelligence and ChatGPT, concurred Arab and Korean authors of
children’s fiction during a panel discussion titled “Another step towards the future: YA literature
in UAE and Korea” at the 42nd Sharjah International Book Fair, themed ‘We Speak Books’.
Moderated by writer Lamya Tawfik, the panel consisted of UAE academics cum writers Prof.
Ibrahim Abu Taleb and Prof. Reem Saleh Al Gurg and Korean novelist Sun-mi Hwang.

Tawfik began with a quote from C.S. Lewis that “a children’s story that cannot be enjoyed by
children is not a good children’s story”. While Sun-mi Hwang said that she grew up reading
adventures and travel books in Korean, the UAE-based academics professed their love for a
local magazine called Majid as well as 1001 Nights. Prof Reem also found the story of Matilda
(Roald Dahl) inspiring.

Elucidating why children’s books are of value to adults, Sun-mi Hwang pointed out that every
adult was once a child and this gives us humanitarian feelings. In her writing technique, she
revealed that she would come down to the age of the child in her story to prepare her plot.
“I think good works are important regardless of the generation they came in and all categories of
people see the world in the same way. For a book to become a classic, the most important
factor is a sense of humanity,” said the author of the bestseller The Hen Who Dreamed She
Could Fly, which was made into an animated film. The Dog who Dared to Dream and Miracle on
Cherry Hill are her other famous works for children.

“I am a father with the heart of a mother, singing with children,” commented Prof Taleb, who has
written several poems and plays. “I used to read out my poems to my daughter when she was
three and if she ignored it, I knew it was not a good poem,” he reminisced. Rapid rhythm, clarity
of words, didacticism and the spirit of a child are important in creating children’s poems, noted
the winner of several literary awards in the UAE.

Reem Al Gurg noted that themes remain universal but writing techniques have to interest its
intended audience. “Most of the stories I write are about fish, so I have to know about them,”
said the author of 17 books for children. “Despite the digital world, it is necessary for children to
have a time for reading just as they have a bedtime,” she advised, fully supporting the book
fair’s slogan of changing the world through books.

SIBF 2023 is running at Expo Centre Sharjah until November 12.

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