Qatar National Library and House of Wisdom (HoW) in Sharjah joined efforts at the 15th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival to nurture critical thinking among youth.

Under the theme of ‘Hayy bin Yaqdhan: A Journey of Enlightenment,’ QNL and HoW hosted an immersive booth introducing children and young adults to a cornerstone of Arabic literature penned by Andalusian philosopher Ibn Tufayl.

The experience took young visitors on a journey of self-discovery through five interactive stations, each embodying a key theme from the story of Hayy, a young boy raised in isolation on a deserted island by a doe.

The booth, which attracted a large turnout, was visited by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Book Authority.

Huism Tan, Executive Director of Qatar National Library, said that through its collaboration with HoW, the Library is advancing its mission of creating an exceptional environment for learning and discovery. ‘Since its foundation, the Library has strived to enhance engagement with Arab literature and promote personal development, which lies at the core of its participation in the Sharjah Children Reading Festival.’

HoW Executive Director Marwa Al Aqroubi explained how literature and philosophy greatly impact child development. ‘Hayy bin Yaqdhan fosters critical thinking, research, and deductive reasoning in young readers, drawing from Arab and Islamic heritage. The story showcases a contemplative child who, solely through intellect, unravels life’s mysteries, inspiring children to see the world differently, engage in research, and realize their potential. It cultivates thoughtfulness, analysis, and independence in young minds, shaping their characters.’

Fatema Al Malki, Project Manager at Qatar Reads, said the booth represents a physical manifestation of how a story can bring people together. ‘We are happy to collaborate with House of Wisdom and honored to participate for the first time in the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival to highlight our shared Arabic and Islamic heritage, a priority for us in the world of publishing.’

The booth hosted a mini exhibition featuring rare copies of the novel in Arabic, English, German, and French. The copies were obtained from Qatar National Library and from the private collections of the Juma Al-Majid Center for Culture and Heritage. The oldest copy of Ibn Tufayl’s novel dates back to the year 1721 CE. 


Five Interactive Phases To Unleash Youth Potential

Ibn Tufayl’s iconic narrative depicts Hayy’s journey of enlightenment through self-directed learning and keen observation. The story has inspired countless renowned literary works worldwide, including Tarzan, The Jungle Book, Robinson Crusoe, and Cast Away. Over time, the novel has been translated into various languages, highlighting its profound influence and universal appeal across diverse cultures and literary landscapes.

The experience at the booth begins at the ‘Early Childhood and Dependence’ station, where children learn about Hayy’s survival tactics and the doe’s nurturing role, focusing on animal welfare and mutual coexistence.

Progressing to the ‘Learning and Adapting’ station, young attendees delve into Hayy’s development of essential island-survival skills. This section emphasizes sustainable practices such as reducing, reusing, and recycling, underscoring the importance of resourcefulness. The ‘Innovations and Solutions’ station then showcases Hayy’s discovery of fire and his strategies for coping with loss, promoting innovation and resilience in the face of adversity.

In the fourth station, ‘Harmony with Nature,’ visitors delve into Hayy’s profound connection with his surrounding environment, advocating for environmental stewardship and conservation. Here, the focus is on nurturing a deeper understanding of ecological balance. Transitioning to the final station, ‘Ascension to Wisdom,’ visitors explore Hayy’s transcendent relationship with nature and the cosmos, promoting mindfulness and sustainable living.

The Library encourages all members of the community to mark their calendars for these enriching events. For more information on the full programme calendar and to register to attend, please visit the Library’s website at www.qnl.qa/en/events or the QNL mobile app, which is free and available to download from the App Store or from Google Play.


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