Visiting directors from Bloomsbury U.K. (Sarah Odedina and design director Valerie Braithwaite) were very enthusiastic about the number of school-aged children at the First Annual Doha Children’s Book Festival. Both commented that it’s rare to see children at international book festivals in Europe, the U.K., and the U.S.
And, of course, children’s reading is where it all begins.
There was much to love about the crush of elementary, middle, and secondary students rushing hither and thither through the fair. I saw several buying books, and surely a child purchasing her or his own books (choosing books over Costa Coffee or a toy) has had a positive and worthwhile experience.
However, on the other hand, I did see a number of frustrated publishers, who weren’t selling a great deal, but had to contend with semi-supervised children (who perhaps weren’t fully prepped on the different ways to browse books) pushing through their stacks.
Next year, perhaps children—and teachers—will have a better idea of what’s found at a book fair, and what they might be able to get out of it.
More coverage from the fair, from The Peninsula: “Teachers Need Lessons, Say Authors”