First-ever Children’s Literature Festival in Islamabad
By Sana Jamal
Islamabad – Braving a burning sun and intense heat wave, hundreds of children arrived at the first-ever Islamabad Children’s Literary Festival to celebrate the wonders of literature. Tales of remarkable characters and traditions, playful puppets, ancient art of pottery Making as well as films, music and theatre shows took the kids on an enchanting journey of knowledge.
Featuring various interactive readings, discussions and workshops by famous children’s authors and poets in addition to book launches, book fairs, creative writing and book-making, the first-day of the Literary Fest was a day packed with literature geared for kids from play-school to college level. The festival was also a chance to connect young readers and authors. Young ones were seen going from author to artist to illustrator, eager to learn the craft of storytelling and painting.
Held at Pak-China Friendship Centre, the Literary Fest was organized by Oxford University Press, in collaboration with Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi and the Foundation Open Society Institute Pakistan. Children’s Literature Festival aimed to inspire, enlighten and entertain all alike. “Our goal is to encourage the habit of reading – a habit that ensures a mind comfortable with ideas. The reading habit is especially important for our children, who are growing up in an age of intolerance,” said Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, of OUP. In her speech at the inauguration ceremony, she assed that Muslim civilisation has powerfully promoted education, scholarship and learning. “And that is why we are here today: To celebrate the practice of reading, and to promote it, specifically among children.”
The youngsters learned about writing, illustrating and the joys of reading is varied sessions focused on: teaching in the mother tongue, promoting reading habits, art of bookmaking, poetry reading, creative writing, writing digital stories. A presentation on ‘Making a Book’ was one of the most compelling sessions that focused on how a book is conceived, written, edited, illustrated, and published. Art corner, a mushaira for children, and a contest ‘Bol kay Lub Azad hain Teray’ for writing and narrating a story in English, Urdu, and regional languages, are some of the prominent features of the Festival.
A children’s book, ‘Laddu is born’, was also launched at the inauguration of the Festival. The cartoon character ‘Laddu’ is the result of a co-creation process between Pakistan and Dutch illustrators and writers based on famous Dutch character ‘Miffy’. Laddu, the new character, symbolizes the co-operation and friendship between Pakistan and The Netherlands, said the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H. E. Gajus Scheltema. “Early childhood is a time of exceptional physical, cognitive, social and emotional development and the sooner we expose children to the joys of reading, the greater the impact.
It was the first-ever Children’s Literature Festival in Islamabad and sixth so far to encourage young ones to experience the joys and rewards of reading and thereby furthered the cause of education in Pakistan.