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When books come alive

The first Chandigarh Children’s Literature Festival kicks off on March 28 with a host of authors from around the country gathering at the City Beautiful. The threeday affair will see a range of workshops organised for children of various ages along with readings by the authors from their books.

chandigarh Updated: Mar 28, 2014 12:21 IST
Nanki Singh

The first Chandigarh Children’s Literature Festival kicks off on March 28 with a host of authors from around the country gathering at the City Beautiful. The threeday affair will see a range of workshops organised for children of various ages along with readings by the authors from their books.

We caught up with Srivi Kalyan, Chennai-based writer, illustrator, educator and designer, and Chatura Rao, former journalist-turned-children’s author and filmmaker.

Srivi Kalyan

Srivi’s informal writing career started from as early as Class 1. “My mother encouraged me to write and taught me to document all my work from an extremely young age,” says she. Her idea about children’s literature in India, considering her deep interest in mythology, is about pushing boundaries, making the stories as Indian as possible with a global appeal.

The educator side of her adds about the importance of understanding and teaching the arts to young children. “You understanding where the child is coming from is just as important as teaching them something you believe they need to learn,” insists Srivi, who also says children are a lot more intuitive than we realize.

Whilst narrating what a five-year-old’s definition of poetry is, she says, “This is what a child said to me once describing poetry — ‘you write it when sad, when happy or when on a rollercoaster, because you have to sing on a rollercoaster and that is poetry too’.”

Chatura Rao’s start as an author for children was quite accidental. “I wrote my first book when I was staying home with my child after having given birth and I actually wrote it for grown-ups, but Puffin, the publishing house that it was passed on to, decided it was better suited for children,” laughs Chatura.

According to her, the best way to get children to read is for parents to read with them when they are young. “Parents have to make reading interesting for their children; you can’t hand a book to a child and then leave him or her alone in the room expecting they’d read it,” says she. Chatura is currently working on a documentary about a young sports figure.

Both Chatura and Srivi count the beloved children’s authors Ruskin Bond and Enid Blyton amongst their favourites and say that festivals like these are a great way for authors from across the country to meet.

“It’s not like we have an official board meeting or something of authors every year, so these festivals are a great way to interact and meet them,” they conclude.