“It all started with a book! One of my most vivid memories as a child was standing by a shelf in the school library on a rainy day where we couldn’t go outside to play. I remember the recess bell ringing but I just couldn’t get myself to leave. I had just found a copy of “The Monster at the End of this Book” and was still reading it. I couldn’t put it down! I wanted to know what would happen if I kept turning the pages. After all, I was the one turning those pages! I was the one moving this plot forward!!! The second recess bell rang, signaling that I should be sitting squarely in my seat in class by now…but I still couldn’t put the book down. That was the first time I had ever read a book where the character spoke directly to me, asking me not to turn the pages. I was fully involved in how the story ends. Every time I turned the page, we were closer to the monster at the end of the book. If I chose not to turn the page, we’d never see the monster. I was fully engaged because I was actually a part of the action. Being in trouble because I missed the first ten minutes of my class that day was absolutely worth it. I never forgot that feeling and have been throwing myself into books ever since.”
At Hikayati, we want every child to experience this kind of wholehearted engagement with a book, and we want this engagement to begin well before formal reading instruction. Our tiniest children have it in them to tell stories, and our wordless books give them that opportunity. In 2013, our idea for wordless Arabic books won the Zoomaal HIVOS Arab Creativity Award, the first step in our journey. In July 2015, Hikayati was officially established as a publishing house, and in October 2015, it received seed funding from Oasis 500, the region’s foremost business incubator.
We often get asked “where are the words?!!” and “why did you choose to publish wordless books??” Well, we believe that each family and each child already has all the words needed to fully bring a wordless book to life. We also believe that wordless books are a wonderful way to stretch the imagination because they let you go beyond the words an author sets on a page. They allow families and children to fully own the stories they tell and to make these books personal. There are also many benefits to wordless books, especially in the early childhood years. For starters, we know that young children learn best through play, and wordless books are as close to play as books can get. We also know that for children who are verbal but who have not yet learned to read, wordless books are an amazing confidence booster. But for us, the best thing about wordless books is that they give children a chance to fall in love with books well before they learn how to read.
A WORD ABOUT WORDLESS BOOKS
DO YOU HAVE A STORY TO TELL
In Arabic, Hikayati means “my stories,” and as a publisher we’re all about the stories people tell. If you’re a parent with a story that you or your child would like the world to hear, get in touch! If you’re an illustrator or a designer with a vision for a narrative in pictures, get in touch! If you’re a teacher with a classroom project you’d like to turn into a book… you guessed it, get in touch! We’re always on the lookout for the next great tale to become a Hikayati book, and we’d love to hear from you.