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Young bookworm alert

Outdoor fun: A look at Bookaroo’s previous edition.

Outdoor fun: A look at Bookaroo’s previous edition.  

Much to the delight of readers big and small, the much-loved kids’ fest Bookaroo lands in the city

The newest event taking place in the city this weekend is actually a tradition that early readers in New Delhi enjoy every year. Bookaroo, the prestigious book festival for children, has come to Mumbai, finally. While the city has seen a spurt in the number of lit fests over the past few years, the first one for kids appeared as belatedly as last year. With Bookaroo this year, Mumbai enters an elite league of cities (Jaipur, Srinagar, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Kuching, Ahmedabad, Pune and Goa) that have hosted this festival which is held exclusively for young and developing bookworms.

This does not mean that Bookaroo wasn’t eager to get here earlier. Says festival director, Swati Roy, “Bookaroo is a trust. Unless someone supports us, we can’t go to a place. We want to go everywhere. Stories are borderless, the hunger for stories is uniform.” Bookaroo’s Mumbai partner is the BKC-based Mount Litera School International. Its advisor Navyata Goenka visited Bookaroo in New Delhi last year and decided to bring it home.

Says Goenka, “Bookaroo has had 29 editions in nine cities. Their vision aligns with the vision of our school which is to show children how to learn, not what to learn. The fest drives and inculcates a joy of reading through transdisciplinary ways – reading through clay, doodle art and so on. That is the essence of the programme. Children these days are not going to sit in a corner and read a book. You have to engage them in several ways. They are exposed to the world as they have gone international and authors like John Dougherty who is attending the festival bring books alive.”

Bookaroo won the Literary Festival Award at the prestigious London Book Fair last year. Adds Roy, “It is too ambitious to say we have changed anything — we don’t measure things in that way. But there are so many books now with new Indian publishers. We believe we are facilitators and that there is a book for every child. We create programmes that have trivia, poetry, songs, fiction, non-fiction, art. That way they have an array in front of them.” The festival has more than 50 sessions for kids in different age bands. There are poetries, songs and stories by Irish poet, singer and song-writer John Dougherty who will meld his music with his stories. Kala Ramesh will dance her way into kids’ hearts with a poem and even show them how to write haikus. Ajay Dasgupta promises to rouse things with his multilingual performance of his stories in Marathi, Hindi and English.

Touching upon history is the electrifying story of social reformer and poet Savitribai Phule, by Leah Verghese and Suman Chitrakar. Or kids can watch a brush-off between artists Priya Kurien and Savio Mascarenhas who paint and sketch for their lives as an unknown story is read to them. Kids who enjoy clay modelling can get their hands messy with Kavita Merchant who will bring characters to life with her work.

Bengaluru-based editor and writer (and The Hindu’s columnist) Bijal Vachharajani will be bringing a slice of the environment to the festival through her book: So You Want to Know About the Environment? Kids at her workshop will write a wildlife poem and she hopes to inspire them with pictures of Indian wildlife and even fish, that they might not have seen before. Says Vachharajani, “Children actually care about the environment and are less cynical. They believe that change can happen, they have a sense of wonder. One reader wrote to me about the world and wondering what was going to happen in the future. So they actually care enough to make a noise.”

Parents who are readers themselves and have kids who read could not be happier. Says Anuj Talukder whose five-and-a-half-year old daughter Nayantara goes to Mount Litera, “I have lots of friends in Delhi and have been hearing about Bookaroo for ages. My daughter reads on her own, we also read a lot of books to her, but she’s been around books. She is also into art and colour so we have scheduled her for everything at the festival. We also have a two-and-a-half-year-old who can’t do the entire festival, so she will do some of it.”

Bookaroo will be held at Mount Litera School International, BKC, today and tomorrow, 11 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.; pre-registration is a must on insider.in

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 1:12:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/young-bookworm-alert/article22839146.ece

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