We are always looking for things which will make books even more exciting for children and young adults. And one of the things has to be children’s literature festivals!
For the past five years, children and parents in Delhi have been having a treat with Bookaroo. Set up with high hopes and lofty aspirations by a bunch of committed professionals , the first Bookaroo was days of perfect happiness for me. The venue, the gorgeous Anandgram, the gathering of writers, the excitement on the children’s faces. But what was best about it was at some level the purity of the interaction—it was authors talking to children about books, the process of writing, and the magic of imagination. And the fantastic doodle wall, where artists and children drew side by side.
Over the years, as Bookaroo has grown bigger, some of the inevitable has happened—there are sponsors, the book-related events are marred by too many masks to colour, too many characters in costume, some storytellers who seem to give precedence to histrionics over narrative, and one rather dishy but completely inappropriate rockstar. But the spirit of Bookaroo remains strong and those days are still some of the most joyful of the year.
This year, two of our authors (well, one author and one author-platypus) will be reading and talking at Bookaroo. It feels good that some of our first Duckbill events will be at Bookaroo.
There is to be another storytelling festival in Delhi this November. Normally, I would have rejoiced—the more, the better, and we really do not have enough—but, perhaps through bad planning, it is scheduled exactly a week before Bookaroo. I really wish that they had planned it for some other time in the year! It would have been wonderful to have two equally strong festivals in the city. This way, one might weaken the other, and that would be a great loss for children, and for adults who love children’s books and stories!