Dreams of a sustainable world

For the first time, the Gulf region will take part in a global writing initiative to draw attention to children’s rights and sustainability, under the patronage of UNESCO

Voices of Future Generations is a unique writing initiative under the patronage of UNESCO, created to promote the UN Convention on the ‘Rights of the Child’ and Sustainability through the creation of adventure stories written by young children. The programme has been developed to give children a voice about their hopes, dreams and aspirations for a sustainable future – all through the written word. Since its global launch in 2014, 12 books (one anthology of eight stories and 11 individual books) have been published globally.

This year, the Gulf region will take part for the first time, welcoming story submissions in both Arabic and English. The Emirates Literature Foundation is the consultant for the initiative. Winners will have the chance to join a global council of prize-winning child authors and have their work featured online and in inspirational books that will be sent to schools and libraries throughout the world.

Winning child authors from the 2019 VOFG global comp: Diwa Boateng, The Forward and Backward City; Lupe Vaai, The Voice of an Island (top); Jona David, The Epic Eco- inventions

What is Voices of Future Generations?

It’s a writing competition that is looking for original and imaginative adventure stories that draw attention to children’s rights and sustainability. The focus is on creativity and imagination, with stories focused on characters that overcome something, as all good adventure tales do.

Successful stories will include:
* A clear sustainable theme
* Strong character development
* A good plot

The competition is open to children aged 8-12 years old, whether in private education, government schools or home-schooled. Stories can be submitted by students, parents and teachers and submission is free of charge. Submissions are open until 25 April.

For more information, visit: www.elfdubai.org/en/vofg

Magrudy’s bookshop founder Isobel Abulhoul

Who is Isobel Abulhoul?

  • Isobel Abulhoul came to Dubai in 1968 and co-founded bookshop chain Magrudy’s in 1975.
  • In 2008, Isobel founded the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Abulhoul is also CEO of the Emirates Literature Foundation.
  • In 2019, Isobel was named one of the 100 Inspiring Leaders in the GCC by Arabian Business magazine.

A word from Isobel Abulhoul

What advice do you have for parents whose children are submitting competition entries?
Encourage children to think about the future they want to see. Encouraging them to visualise a more sustainable world through their imagination and adventurous spirit is a brilliant starting point for changing the world. Also, look at some of the child’s favourite stories and try to identify why they like it and learn about story building that way

How many adults will be taking part in each workshop?
For the teacher and parent workshops, we have been running workshops for up to 30 people. Children’s workshops function better in smaller groups so we host no more than 20 children at a time.

What approach will educators take in the workshops?
Workshops for teachers and parents focus on creative writing tips as well as on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and children’s rights. Children’s workshops focus on story building and we invite children to come and practice their writing in the lead up to the submission deadline.

What tips can you give to young writers?
I think it’s important for children, their parents and teachers to focus on how to tell a good story. It often starts with an idea, a character and then a journey. The most important tip is to be creative and write; the more a child writes down their ideas and becomes familiar with how to use words to set a scene, the better their written work will become.

What advice do you have for those submitting?
A good place to start is to think of a Sustainable Development Goal that means something to the writer. There are 17 of them, so plenty to choose from. Then brainstorm how to create an adventure story that illustrates that goal, before they begin writing.

VOFG story guidelines

Stories should be aimed at readers aged six years and above and be 1,200-1,500 words long. They should be written from a child’s point of view or be about an adventure that a child character experiences. They should feature themes of children’s rights and sustainable development, as well as the
writer’s vision for a sustainable future.

Writing workshops

Writing workshops for parents, teachers and children are hosted by The Emirates Literature Foundation to give guidance on character development and the type of stories that are likely to be shortlisted.

Email vofg@emirateslitfest.com for the full schedule