Bookaro 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 Bookaro 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, Bookaro’s innovative venture may not 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.
By Archita Mittra, ex-Coordinator