Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press) recently held a public literary workshop, Hakaya Maraya, where experts in the field of storytelling advised attendees on best practices when constructing tales for children.

Over 25 participants from various backgrounds who all share a love for children’s stories attended the workshop, which was organised as part of the community outreach campaign of HBKU Press, to help promote local literature and learning. HBKU Press Community Outreach Officer Muneera Al-Romaihi said they aim to engage the public and promote literacy through outreach events to the community.

These workshops are very popular. As experts in the field of publishing, HBKU Press gives aspiring local Qatari and Arab authors insight into what makes for a successful piece of literature. Ultimately, we are helping to contribute to the knowledge economy by supporting local authors in honing their talents and helping produce more works of literature.’

Basma Al Khatib, a children’s author and the Children and Young Adult Editor at HBKU Press, led the workshop at the Student Centre in Education City. The aim of the workshop, according to her, can be explained in the title. ‘Hakaya Maraya’,  is a concept where stories serve as mirrors in which readers see themselves; or stories can be mirrors which reflect back important messages to the readers.

As authors, it is important to understand how to do this in a way that engages children: using language for their age levels, choosing images that appeal to them. The worst thing a writer can do is have a great message but fail to convey it because they don’t understand their audience. These are all things that I address in the workshop.’

Dr Amira Ahmed Hamzi saw the advertisement for the workshop and signed up immediately.

I love writing generally. But I am especially interested in writing for children. I know that there are some specific qualities for children’s writing that are different than writing in general so I thought it was a good idea to come to this workshop to get professional advice from someone in the publishing industry.’

Ahmed Al-Saygh, an Entrepreneurship Advisor at Bedaya Centre, enjoys storytelling and hopes to one day publish his own children’s book.

This workshop really helped me understand the elements of a good story and how to organise and give meaning to it. I often tell stories to my nieces and though they love hearing them, they are often without purpose; they are just for fun. So it is great to learn from an expert.’

HBKU Press is planning to host several more literary workshops for various audiences in the future. Visit their homepage or follow them on social media for updates.