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ISLAMABAD: The final day of the Children’s Literature Festival, held at the Federal College of Education, H-9, saw a warm breeze and a stream of entertaining and informative sessions directed towards children. Amongst these sessions were several dedicated to storytelling, a facet of childhood that remains unparalleled in its inspiration and importance. Stories serve not only to entertain children, but also to educate them.

This was evident in the stories told by Rumana Husain during her session, ‘Stories for Children’. Accompanied by images projected onto a screen beside her, Husain enthralled children and adults alike with stories either written or illustrated by her. Among these stories were Chuha phire aari baari, Parindoun ke rang and Do bilongron ki kahani.

The first, Chuha phire aari baari, is an old story brought to life through Husain’s images of children dressed up as characters from the story. Husain discussed with her audience, various ways of illustrating stories, such as drawing, painting and collages. The children also participated in the session by answering questions about the tales they heard, and making sound effects to accompany the stories. Parindoun ke rang is another old tale revived by Husain’s illustrations.

Husain also recited Do bilongron ki kahani, which is a translation of an old English children’s story titled, ‘A Tale of Two Kittens’, and highlights the importance of tolerance. Towards the end of the session, she asked the children in the audience what they understood from the story, and a child responded that he had understood everything.

Husain laughed before asking the children if they understood the message of tolerance expressed by the tale. We should all help and trust each other, she explained, and we should all be friends because despite our differences we are all human.

Another storytelling session, originally slated to be held by Taimur Rehman, was instead held by Nadine Murtaza, whose expressive and animated storytelling captivated the audience.

Murtaza began the session with a story about a hummingbird that tries to find help retrieving a small golden ball that was stolen by a crow. She accompanied the story with sound effects, adding another element of delight for the listening children.

Murtaza then told a story about the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. Through humorous family anecdotes, she described the trials faced by many who travelled across the border to live in Pakistan.

Some had nowhere to live when they arrived, and many experienced a new culture and language they were unfamiliar with. The story was also very interactive, and involved games between Murtaza and her audience.

Children were asked what they would take with them if they had to pack up and leave their homes in a matter of hours and travel to a different country, like many families did in 1947.

In order to recreate a train station setting within the story, Murtaza also asked her audience to mimic the sounds of moving trains, children, pets and people shouting slogans.