Story-telling sessions, book launches, theatre, puppetry, arts and crafts, movies and concerts and Burns Road food! If that was not enough to entice young people, we will have you know that the 60th edition of Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) (7-8 Aug) had a lot more, not only for school children and young adults but their parents, too. On August 1, a press conference was held at Arts Council, Karachi, the venue for CLF. By the time you will read these lines, the festival will have concluded, but here is what the organizers promised...
Baela Raza Jamil, CLF founder and CEO of Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) emphasized the fact that children (3-18 years of age) are the real V.I.Ps for her. ‘Grown-ups can come, but only with their children. There is plenty of space in our hearts and in the Arts Council for everyone,’ she said with a warm smile.’ Ms Jamil outlined the 16 learning strands (mathematics, environment, science, dance, heritage and many more) that featured this year’s CLF and added that it all started with the need to tell stories. ‘What type of stories should be there and how tell them. Stories are very important to bring out creativity in children.’
Iftikhar Ali Shalwani, Commissioner Karachi lamented that the trend of reading is diminishing, especially among children. He also spoke about his commitment to revive the public libraries in Karachi, his dream of having a ‘Karachi Public Library’ and the need to have 18 libraries for as many towns in the city. Good luck to you, Mr Shalwani; you sure would need it for such an ambitious project.
CLF director, Rumana Husain spoke about 68 concurrent sessions with about 160 resource persons at CLF. She mentioned the super-talented, five-year-old Tawasul Shah, a poet and host, who would be a part of this year’s CLF.
Ameena Saiyyid, Co-founder and Director CLF, thanked the commissioner for supporting CLF, and said children should be motivated to read.
Mehtab Rashdi pointed out that educational, social and cultural activities become a lot better when supported by government. ‘We want our children to read; something we have forgotten.’
Sheema Kirmani underscored something very important in her brief address: ‘Art and literature make us better humans; they take us away from violence.’ Spot on, Sheema. We hope that such healthy activities become a norm in our country.
Ali Hamza said that most developed countries have a reading culture. Wherever people go, they have books with them. He said he was honoured to be a part of CLF and would perform the poems of Iqbal and Zehra Nigah at CLF. Wow, that would be a real treat, right?
President of Arts Council Karachi Ahmed Shah also spoke about the importance of reading books. He said no doubt we can get a lot of information from the internet, but it’s books that give us real knowledge.
The 13-year-old young author Zainab Rashid also spoke about the cathartic effects of writing. She was bullied when she was in lower primary school, but instead of giving in to depression, she started maintaining a diary, and this helped her become a stronger person.
It was announced that Sindh Minister for Education and Literacy Syed Sardar Shah would grace the inaugural event of the festival.