White Star
White Star

LAHORE: The first day of the Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) on Tuesday marked a blend of interesting sessions held for little children as well as older ones.

The event was held at the Children Library Complex Lahore where hundreds of children came to participate in the excitement.

Punjab Minister of Food Samiullah Chaudhry inaugurated the 64th CLF with the official anthem titled ‘Hamein Kitab Chahiye’.

The audience, families as well as schoolchildren accompanying their teachers, took part in festival’s inauguration with renditions by the children from the Government Special School Choubarji and the Shahdab School. Later, two young authors shared their writings in Urdu and English, while Sanjan Nagar School students presented some poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Minister Chaudhry presented CLF awards to longstanding supporters and resource persons of the festival. He said that the festival was an exhilarating experience, which made him feel like “being a child once again”, as it brought forward many nostalgic themes.

“Let us all work for learning beyond the narrow text books culture,” he said. “This must not be treated as extra-curricular, in fact it is all part of studying, because this is how children will learn.”

Over 50 sessions were held, including workshops on creative writing, digital media, theatre and girl guides. Day long book stalls including one by the Oxford University Press (OUP) and the Alif Laila Bus Society were set up. A stall, Kitaab Gari, attracted several children with its books on display as well as animated stories playing on a screen.

Eminent artiste and songwriter Khaled Anam told Dawn that it was extremely important that children be given more attention on how to be educated and raised as they were the future of our country.

“I still remember a TV program from my childhood when Pakistan was undivided, titled ‘Mrital Taalay Taalay’ and to this day I remember the songs,” he said. “Even in the 80s and 90s, there was programmes for children, but today our children are not our prime interest, it seems,” he lamented. “Khalid Ahmed, Sohail Rana, Shoaib Hashmi and others all contributed to children’s programmes.”

Mr Anam has written a book of Urdu nursery rhymes ‘Bachon Kay Geet’.

“It’s time we also learnt to remember our own alphabet in musical form, and it is also time we learnt and remembered stories and songs from our region in our languages.”

He said it was unfortunate that today children did not even know about famous poets like Ismail Mairthi and Sufi Tabassum who wrote exclusively for children. The main stage was packed with children interested in sessions by Khaled Anam and Atif Badar and storytelling by ‘Suno Kahani Meri Zubaani’ as well as the ‘mural of love’ by Fauzia Minallahan. An open mic session for students “Bol keh lab azad hein teray” and a concert titled ‘Rocking Timeless Poetry’ by Ali Noor, Ali Hamza and Rakae Jamil was also held.

There was dramatic storytelling, and a puppet show by Alif Laila Book Bus Society. Books of seven-year-old Zahra Bokhari and Anam Khan were launched along with sign language facilitation and panel discussions.

A full-day activity on the art of bookmaking was held by the Oxford University Press.

The Faiz Ghar Auditorium had a theatrical performance by Sanjan Nagar students, theater performance by Rafi Peer and development through astronomy in Pakistan by Cosmic Perspectives.

Digital Pakistan and Arfa Karim Room featured various digital activates and a session on safe internet was done by the ITA team.

Karwan-e-Iqbal held a public speaking workshop, history of Lahore, by children’s author Rumana Husain, while critical thinking and creativity and storytelling sessions on folktales of Kalaash were narrated by the ‘Shaman’ from the beautiful Kalash Valley and Khurshid Khan, a school teacher from Peshawar.

The programmes at Salam room had rich learning spaces with daylong activities, such as robotronics, science fuse and heritage by State Bank of Pakistan Museum teams.

Potters, paper and wooden toys makers, artists and craftsmen and three mobile libraries from the CLF and Alif Laila Book Bus Society also attracted dozens.

Cinema Ghar had film screenings from Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s film ‘Quaid say Batein’ and many others.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2020

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