Last week, I attended the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival in UAE and it was big in its scope and reach. It was held in their massive expo centre and there were advertisements everywhere, billboards, spread across whole double-decker buses and more…this was a reading festival here, for kids!

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So colour me impressed.

Sharjah has built up a rep for being the arty region of UAE, and this festival is one of many highlights to push this rep along. I leaped at the chance to sign up to do creative writing workshops. But there was so much more than just writing, there was everything from cooking to Minecraft to making movies and cartooning. Over 50 creators and companies from around the world (including a whole bunch from Australia) were here to get kids thinking about thinking.

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In the mornings, I had schools and for the evenings, I had the general public come in. I learnt to adapt my workshops to be drop in/drop out sessions and fine-tuned my writing exercises so they were easy to understand from the get-go.

It’s comforting to know that no matter where I am, the kids are always the same, they’re buzzing with ideas, and they laugh at all my jokes (and at Grumpy Bear too, he’s a pro haha).

Outside of the workshops, I sat in on random sessions (including a gifted 9 year old writer from India, wowee) and explored the massive halls where they had plenty to see and do (and eat haha). I also used this time to get a lot of writing done for my next cHEwY creation, Don’t Follow Vee. Plus there was plenty of free time to go sight-seeing around UAE. It was a wonderful experience and another cHEwY opportunity.

Jeff Kinney once said that his books are like his passport and that’s true. I’ve been very lucky to have gone to many places around the world 🙂 Wonder where I’ll be next? (I know the answer to that haha)

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @oliverwinfree for the latest on my bookish life (and a ton of burgergrams too haha)




About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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