The first day of the 15th Children’s Literature Festival opened doors to thousands of children from all across Punjab on November 28. Organised by the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in collaboration with the Oxford University Press (OUP) along with the Open Society Foundations, the festival features numerous activities to instil a passion of book reading and storytelling amongst the children in our society so that they not only come closer to these two important cultural aspects of our society but also develop critical thinking and creative writing.
The event was attended by various educationists and celebrities along with political dignitaries and foreign ambassadors who immediately grabbed the attention of the attendees. These included Minister for Education Rana Mashhood, Ambassador of the European Union Lars Gunner Wigemark and Pakisatan Peoples’ Party Senator Aitzaz Ahsan.
The event kicked off with an opening ceremony after which activities and sessions were conducted by Adeel Hashmi, Baela Raza Jamil, Haseena Moin, Mira Hashmi Dr. Arfa Syeda Zehra, Khalid Anum, Sheherezade Alam, Ameena Saiyid, Nadia Jamil, Aitzaz Ahsan, Fehmida Riaz, Zehra Nigah, Saife Hasan, Ali Hamza, Dr. Taimur Rehman, Raza Kazim, Zambeel Dramatic Readings, Imrana Maqssod, Jamil Najam along with Swati and Agyat from India. These sessions were open to children between the ages of 4 and 20.
Speakers and distinguished guests focused on book reading, learning through music mostly.
“Books and education can alleviate intolerance and extremism from our society. We have deprived our children from cultural heritage and true history of Pakistan by distorting content in the text books,” said Aitzaz Ahsan during the book launch of Khaled Anum’s ‘Songs for Children’.
Apart from storytelling, book launches and theatre performances the event also included certain fun activities such as mural painting and pottery to add a tint of entertainment for the children.
Veteran PTV dramatist and ‘Dhoop Kinaray’ writer, Haseena Moin said, “I also came last year here just because you get the change in your personality as well. You engage and interact with children and feel young. I believe today’s child is not getting what they deserve. The government is not playing an appropriate role.”
The organisers said that they hope to promote the aesthetic and historical value of the language using the two-day event as a platform. The organisers invited Punjabi poets and writers to narrate Punjabi folklore and poems to the children. The OUP, HBL and Telenor also set up activities for children. In addition to the aforementioned activities, performances like skits, mime, musical performance and plays also kept the day interesting and exciting.
The two day festival is highly supported by organisations such as Alif Ailaan, Toffee TV and Rabtt to organise interactive sessions, workshops, training sessions, and other educational activities for children from all age groups. These interactive sessions and discussions included book readings, lectures, musical performances, theatrics and orations, art of reading with expression and creative arts.
British Council Punjab Director Kevin Mclaven, said, “It’s a fabulous event as children from various social sectors are here. Literature will always remain with us. We should invest in education and literature as fiction enables us to be more creative”.
The first day of the event concluded with a houseful performance by the ‘Laal’ band which performed Faiz’s poetry and Sufi songs at the end of an otherwise profoundly interactive literary day.