The 34th Chennai Book Fair was the best place to pick up books for the variety it offered was mind boggling.

Books, books and more books...A one-stop-shop for all voracious readers this year's book fair has beaten all records. With over 646 stalls and 386 publishers from around the world almost 70 of them are dedicated to children. The organisers feel that this year the books that sold the most are not just fiction but the activity books and also those on science and skills. Spiritual books for children are also hot buys.

Big books with colourful pictures were a hit with younger kids. Many of the kids have been regular visitors to the Book Fair and though they do not buy books they are happy to browse in the various stalls.

The Scholastic and Higginbotham stalls had a vast range and they catered to almost all the reading needs of a child. They had story books, comics as well as books on to specific historical and scientific themes.

The organisers say it's not just the books that have been attracting children to the book fair. There are a number of activities and competitions like essay writing, drawing and painting competitions and quizzes are also being conducted to make it interactive. Nearly 600 to 700 children have already taken part and won gifts and goodies. J. Aparna, III, Jawahar Navodyaya Vidyalaya : “I come every year and I make sure I buy big books with colourful pictures.”Nandakumar, VI, Union Christian MHSS : “There's so much to choose from. This year I am on a learning spree. I want to learn many new words and therefore I started my buying spree with an encyclopaedia,” he says.Karthi, VI, Manthan Vidyashram: “I don't come with any pre-conceived notion of buying books. I want to keep myself abreast of trends in the market, so I come here to see the books. However, if I do like something I buy it.”Rakshana, IV, Harihar Vidyalaya : “I have seen some 3D books this time and I definitely want that for my library.” Archana, Std IV, National Public School, Gopalapuram : “I have already bought a Tell me why and am waiting to buy more informative books.” S Abhinav, Std VIII, Vidya Mandir, Mylapore says, “I love collecting Science books and every year I buy more to add to my collection. This year I am looking for something different. I want to buy The autobiography of Hershelle Gibbs but am yet to find a copy.”

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Archana SubramanianJune 28, 2012