The three-day first Chandigarh Children’s Literature Festival, which kicked off at the Tagore Theater here on Friday, brings together 12 renowned children’s authors and illustrator’s who aim at enthusing the habbit of reading among children.
The inauguration of the fest was followed by a panel discussion moderated by writer and former journalist, Nirupama Dutt, where children were introduced to the kind of books that the panelists read as children.
Panelists included filmmaker and professor Indu Bala; writer, illustrator, educator and designer, Srivi Kalyan; former journalist-turned children’s author and filmmaker, Chatura Rao; architect Sidharth Virk; writer and critic, Aradhika Sharma; and young reader Madhav Nayar.
Nirupama says, “These days authors are reaching out to children in a big way. However, writing for children is difficult as while writing for them one has to keep the child within them alive.”
Delhi-based author, Payal Dhar, emphasises on the importance of writing about topics that kids identify with to get them to read, with the main focus being on fantasy. She explains why she took to writing this particular genre.
“Fantasy is a challenging genre but that’s one of the main reasons it’s so much fun to tackle. Also, I get to create my own world filled with my own characters,” she enthuses.
When we ask Payal how authors tend to create protagonists for their books, she says, “Ranjit Lal, also an author, saw a line of kids walk by and he looked at them and said, ‘There go the characters of my next book!”
Mentioning the hardships that fulltime writers face in the country, Payal shares, “Childrens writing is like the stepchild of publishing, but things are slowly improving.”
Author and documentary filmmaker, Samina Mishra, is of the view that irreverence in kids shouldn’t be stamped down. Reading shouldn’t be a chore, otherwise a child will never read any book,” Samina asserts.
With the growing popularity of e-books, Kindle and reading material available on the web, many purists look down upon the available technology, and say it’s harmful for children as they have easy access to things that might not be suitable for them, but, she begs to differ. “Technology is the way to reach children nowadays and encourage them to read.
Whether it is on an Ipad or a book, it is still reading,” she emphasises. On why she wants to connect with children, Samina raises an important point that merits serious consideration, "I want to engage with children as I hope that they can make the world we live in a better place."
Day-1 of the fest saw sessions and workshops by eminent literary figures.
The festival is on till March 30.