Children’s Literature Festival: Bigger and better, festival returns to Lahore

The festival will also include its trademark children’s poetry session – dubbed ‘Bol Kay Lab Azad Hain Teray’.

The festival will also include its trademark children’s poetry session – dubbed ‘Bol Kay Lab Azad Hain Teray’.

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, LAHORE, 09th OCTOBER 2013: 

More than 25,000 children are expected to participate in the 7th Children’s Literature Festival to be held on October 30 and 31 at the Children’s Library Complex (CLC), said the organisers on Tuesday.

The festival is being organised by the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagah (ITA) in collaboration with the Oxford University Press (OUP) and the Open Society Foundation.

This is the first time the festival is being held in Lahore since the inaugural event in 2011, said ITA programmes director Baela Raza Jamil. Since the first event, the festival has been held in Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad and Bahawalpur. Attendance at all six festivals was over 105,000 collectively, she added.

Jamil said that the festival offered children the chance to explore their imaginations and to learn, all while being entertained. Participants are expected from India and the United Arab Emirates as well.

At least seven books are to be launched at the event this year, including those written by Rumana Husain, Fauzia Minallah, Asad Mian, Dr Shahid Siddiqi and Hamida Khuro.

As in previous festivals, children will be able to take part in activities like theatre, comic workshops, animation, creative writing, illustration of books, plenary sessions, children’s films, puppet shows, story reading, song signing, book launches and book fairs. The festival will also include its trademark children’s poetry session – dubbed ‘Bol Kay Lab Azad Hain Teray’.

Jamil said that the festival aimed at offering children of all schools and backgrounds equal opportunities. Invitations have been sent to public, private and special education schools and madrassas, she said, adding that schools were still in the process of registering.

She said that Lahore’s commissioner had offered security for the festival. Police vans, Rescue 1122 ambulances and fire vehicles would be stationed at the venue. The Lahore Waste Management Company has also pledged to handle cleaning arrangements, she added.

OUP regional sales director Tariq Haq said that interest in the festival had grown with each edition. “The festival is out to achieve higher targets every year,” he said.

Educationist Dr Arfa Syeda Zahra, who will participate in the festival, said that such activities for children helped create an environment which promoted learning and literacy in innovative ways. “We cannot blame the new generation for the current situation in society,” she said. “They have what we have handed down to them.”

CLC programme manager Safia Rahman said that the complex had reached out to students at public schools to attend the event. She said the CLC had received great feedback from children after the first festival was held in Lahore in 2011.

OSF programme coordinator Nargis Sultana said that the festival aimed at helping children learn from books. “As our motto is ‘Unlocking the power of reading,’ the festival wants to inspire and motivate children to come back to books and enjoy learning,” she said.

At the first event in 2011, the organisers expected an attendance of 3,000. They got more than 20,000, she added.

The festival will be inaugurated on October 30, with Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif invited to attend. Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar is expected as chief guest at the closing ceremony on October 31.

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