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A literary fest that powered the imagination of children

The Vizag Junior Literary Fest brought home the message that books fostered empathy in children

Our bookshelf at home creaks happily as the new books, recently acquired at the Vizag Junior Literary Fest (VJLF), settle down. Thanks to my four-year-old I have been powering through this wonderland of children’s books by Indian authors. The festival dedicated to children’s literature, in its second edition, brought to the city not just the books, but an entire culture – of reading, listening and giving wings to the imagination.

Some festival favourites like The Lion’s Feast, for instance, has riotously funny illustrations by Chetan Sharma accompanying Lavanya Karthik’s story. “Both the story and the illustrations are unique and the end of the tale is open to interpretation,” says K Padma, who along with her granddaughter was also excited about an interactive session with Chetan and Lavanya Karthik, as well as Shobha Viswanath of Karadi Tales and story teller and author Janaki Sabeesh. If the story delighted the audience at the session, Chetan’s spontaneous illustrations for the little ones who came to get the book signed at the stall of Pages - The Book Store were another highlight.

A literary fest that powered the imagination of children

More than 3,000 parents and children witnessed the magic of books unfold for two whole days. If author Sandhya Rao held the little ones enthralled with the Bengali poem ‘Hattima Tim Tim’, storyteller Kapil Pandey and his guitar regaled them with the antics of ‘Makdi Mausi’ There were messages galore, albeit subtle in the stories and poems. Andaleeb Wajib’s book The Legend of the Wolf celebrated friendship and loyalty.The author made a case for kindness towards one and all, especially the wild animals displaced from their natural habitat due to human intervention.

“Children can be motivated, persuaded and engaged through good storytelling. Stories enhance empathy and improves children’s ability to experience other’s emotions,” says Deepa Kodali, who was there at the fest along with her six-year-old son Arjun. “I want my son to grow up to be a sensitive adult who values people and contributes to society in a meaningful way. And the fest was a wonderful platform to foster that,” she adds.

A literary fest that powered the imagination of children

For Sneha Maroo Sevvana, the highlight was the final act by The Puppetarians. “My four-year-old was fascinated by the scintillating performance of the dancing bear. She was engrossed in all the storytelling sessions she attended,” she says.

Vinita Karnani Sarogi’s five-year-old Yug hasn’t stopped retelling the stories he heard from Jeeva Raghunath’s session. “I was amazed at the enthusiasm with which he was engaging with the events, considering he is at an age where the attention span is limited. He was happy and that made me a happy mom,” she says.

The festival was also an opportunity for parents to introduce their children to infinite possibilities. Says Gayathri Sreeramaneni, “I simply wanted my daughter to know that she can also be an illustrator, a craftsman or an artist. She also saw water filling stations instead of water bottles and how children from various schools and backgrounds got together to have fun and share life experiences.”

Accoprding to Sonal Sarda, one of the fest directors, the idea of VJLF was to get children, parents and schools invested in reading. “The platform is there now. In time we hope reading will become a process of continuous, rich engagement and reflection.”

And on that note, I am going back to reading Little Vinayak with my daughter tonight, while we wait for the next edition of the festival to arrive.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 12:16:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/a-literary-fest-that-powered-the-imagination-of-children/article30048426.ece

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