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The same old books again

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LET THEM BROWSE: A scene at the fair.
LET THEM BROWSE: A scene at the fair.

R. KRITHIKA

The 30th Chennai Book Fair had nothing new for kids.

Scene at the Book Fair: "Please get me this book. I want to know what goes on inside me." A young boy, around 11-12 years old, was frantically flipping the pages. His father glanced at it casually, then said, "Forget it. I'll get you books on computer and programming. That is more useful" and dragged the reluctant youngster off. The book was a well-illustrated and simply told tale of the human body. The 30th Chennai Book Fair has moved to a new location the St. George's High School grounds on Poonamallee High Road. But what it has to offer kids is pretty much the same.

Stuck in a groove

Children's books seem to be stuck in a groove moral tales, Enid Blyton, fairy tales... If it's not fiction, then it's all about handwriting, drawing, and books on amazing facts, science, encyclopaedias... Stalls devoted to children's books are few and far between. Most books were familiar to one who visited the book fair every year. Few of the titles were new. Children were steered in the direction of the books they ought to be looking at instead of being allowed to browse in their own way. Parents would insist they look at books that "improve the mind and help with their studies", as one earnest father put it. One girl trying to read tales from Shakespeare in the stall was peremptorily ordered to put "those stories down and look at this". And what was "this"? It turned out to be a textbookish great scientific discoveries.


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