Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival debuted in Kolkata on 5th and 6th November 2016 at the Indian Museum to great success. The two day literary extravaganza aimed only at kids was conceptualized by the festival directors Jo Williams, M Venkatesh and Swati Roy with the aim of instilling in every child a ‘joy of reading’.
The sessions were simultaneous with a mix of poetry, story-telling, art, theatre and puppetry, leaving the children spoilt for choice and invited the participation of renowned storytellers, illustrators, comic book artists and other creative personnel. Kartik Mondal’s puppet show was particularly mesmerizing as were the thrilling tales narrated at the ‘Kahani Tree’ sessions. Doodle Wall offered the kids a platform to unleash their creativity and there was even a Road Dahl themed event based on the concept of ‘Dream Jars’ from his novel BFG. Other interesting sessions included clay modelling and Patachitra workshops as well as Art Walks.
Furthermore, some sessions were in three languages (English, Bengali, Hindi) and ensured adequate exposure to both Indian and western authors including Tagore and Shakespeare. There was also a mini bookstore for the kids to buy books and get them specially signed by the participating writers and artists.
This is the 20th edition of Bookaroo which has previously toured in cities both India and abroad. The festival directors were particularly enthusiastic about recreating the magic in Kolkata for the first time but however conceded that funding remained one of the difficult parts of organizing a lit fest. The audience response seemed fairly positive, with the children taking the initiative and choosing which events to attend.
Given that every child is unique, Bookaroo’s innovative venture may not only help kids to discover a love for books in an increasingly digital space but also teach them to be creative and proactive citizens of the world. It may also help adults to rekindle the child within.
This report was previously published in Voices, The Statesman.
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