Al-Hadaek Group: Resilient in a virtual world

Years ago, it was rare to find a publishing house that specializes in children’s books only, however, and according to Mhaydelly, the need to spread such creative thinking and imagery in the Arab World lead to the increase in writings of such books.
by Joelle Al Cheikh and Sandra Abdelbaki

29 September 2019 | 18:00

Source: by Annahar

This photo was taken from Al Hadaek social media accounts and shows books from the publishing house.

BEIRUT: Al-Hadaek, a 30-year-old publishing house, was established to give children the opportunity to think creatively in the only way they thought possible-reading.

Named after the relationship that develops between kids and their love for gardens, Al-Hadaek wrote and published more than 390 books and magazines aimed to cater to children’s intellectual and artistic needs.

“I began, and continued, my job with Al-Hadaek because it’s beautiful; whether personally or generally, it excites me and brings me closer to the lives and minds of children every day,” Nabila Mhaydelly, children’s book writer, editor, and publisher, told Annahar.

Years ago, it was rare to find a publishing house that specializes in children’s books only, however, and according to Mhaydelly, the need to spread such creative thinking and imagery in the Arab World lead to the increase in writings of such books.

Having received more than 42 local and international awards, Al-Hadaek’s field of work isn’t limited to the publication of books and magazines. They also work on guiding parents and educators on how to encourage children to read, in addition to training writers interested in children's literature through the “Center for Child Literature”.

For anything to succeed, it needs the support of the surrounding community. For Al-Hadaek, that was not a problem. Children, as well as institutions from Lebanon and the Arab Region, showed interest and contributed, through conferences and competitions, to further highlight the importance of giving children the most powerful tool there is-education. Not only do they focus on traditional school education, but on knowledge that triggers children’s creative minds and allows them to think and dream outside of the box.

However, being one of the few children-centered publishing houses came with its challenges.

“Originally, we were part of a publishing house for writers because people had different views regarding the creative and intellectual awareness of children or even on education in general. They weren’t as accepting or as open as they are now,” Mhaydelly told Annahar.

With time, these challenges began to fade, but new ones came about with the emergence of a technological-oriented generation.

“The competition is tough against technology. We believe, however, that books will always be the base a child needs to begin his journey with. We do count on parents, schools, and even decision-makers to try and limit children’s exposure to technology,” Mhaydelly said.

Al-Hadaek, however, managed to keep up with the technological advances through producing electronic and voice recorded stories. The message was still there, but the only thing that changed was the way it was delivered.

These books don’t only aim to widen children’s creativity and mental awareness, but also try to send a message. Whether they’re fiction, historical, scientific, or humorous, the books are written and designed in a way that leaves a print in the child’s mind.

In addition to books, Al-Hadaek is known for producing several magazines that gained a lot of recognition throughout the years. Their first published magazine, titled “Ahmad," was published in 1987 and won the award for best journalistic work in Dubai. In 2000, they published another magazine under the name “TutaTuta” and was the first ever magazine in the Arab region dedicated to kids between the ages of 5 and 7.

“Sadly, we have stopped producing paper magazines. We are trying to find another way to publish them since printing became too expensive," Mhaydelly explained.

Despite the negative effects technology has had on Al-Hadaek, it also gave them the chance to translate their books and deliver them to countries like France, Germany, and Turkey.

“Our motivation stems from our belief that children’s books will never fail to help children grow into thoughtful and creative minds,” Mhaydelly said.

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