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Children perform during the Children Literature Festival at the Lahore Fort. — White Star
Children perform during the Children Literature Festival at the Lahore Fort. — White Star

LAHORE: Creativity and innovation were exhibited all over the Lahore Fort on Saturday as thousands of children from all backgrounds participated in the Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) and came out happy for learning new things besides visiting the historical building.

Over 30 sessions on the first day of the festival attracted schools’ children, belonging to all segments of society, offering them opportunities to know about children’s literature beyond textbooks through book reading, theatre workshops and performances, puppet shows, digital story writing, learning through comics, understanding heritage.

In collaboration with the Walled City of Lahore Authority, the CLF was based on a theme “Celebrating peace, heritage and 70 years of Pakistan” and was packed with renowned resource persons, ambassadors of CLF and institutions.

Many students were showcased as young talent – poets, authors, musicians, artists and much more.

The Oxford University Press, Maqbool Books, Book Group, AzCorp Entertainment and Alif Laila Book Bus Society had set up stalls.

“We enjoyed the festival thoroughly and attended different learning sessions, theatre, puppet shows and folk music,” was the expression of many students Dawn talked to.Mikael Ahsan and Zayna Ahsan, young students, were enthusiastic for being at the festival and learning about many things. They said they participated in different sessions and won books at a Harry Potter quiz competition.

Being our second visit to the fort, Mikael, an Aitchisonian, said they had studied about the fort and heritage.

“The beforehand learning left a soul-soothing effect and everything at the fort seemed so interesting,” he said.

Zayna said joy of reading was at its best. “We also saw replicas of Indus Valley seals as well as learnt about art of book making,” she said.

Students from different public and private schools, special education, technical education and non-formal schools as well as elite schools from Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur and Sahiwal participated in the festival.

“The CLF is an equaliser for children from all segments of society and pushing them to look at learning differently,” festival organiser Dr Baela Raza Jamil told Dawn.

She said this 21st festival since 2011 was trying to encourage children to read beyond textbooks as well as motivate teachers and schools to adopt innovative reading/learning methodologies. Over 25,000 students, teachers as well as general visitors participated in different sessions.

“Since the festival was being held inside the World Heritage site, Dr Baela said a session was dedicated to inform children about the importance of heritage and how to protect such sites,” she said.

A choir sung CLF anthem “Hamain Kitaab Chahiyee” and special education children also performed mime on it.

At a session, Sindh’s curriculum development wing head Dr Fouzia Khan said there were many a challenge in developing curriculum and textbooks – primarily how to make textbooks interesting that could ignite students’ imagination and innovative thinking.

Punjab School Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan and WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari were present at the inaugural ceremony.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2018