The Bookaroo Children's Literature Festival has always been an annual fixture on the capital's cultural calendar—one that young readers look forward to. And now it is back with its 14th edition in Delhi with storytelling sessions and workshops for children aged 4 to 14. It features 64 sessions with 48 speakers from India, France, Portugal, Spain, UK, Germany, Sweden, and more. The Kahani Tree has always been a personal favourite through the years, and this time one can hear Rohini Vij as part of Main Jaisi Hoon Vaisi Hoon, which explores the true meaning of freedom. Then there is The Farewell Present by Kathrin Rohmann, which looks at Leila from Syria, who starts her new life in Germany. The next day features an exciting session, titled I Can't Draw, which inspires you to look at art differently—that it is for everyone, all you need is a page, a pencil and some cool tricks.
The festival has been divided into six such zones. Some of the others include The Doodle Wall for art/illustrations workshops, the Crafty Corner, and more. “We have two sub-venues called the Platform and the Yard, each of which has dramatised reading, poetry, history and fun quizzes,” explains Swati Roy, co-founder and festival director, Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival. “The Platform and Auditorium have audio-visual presentations primarily for those who want to showcase images from books or from their adventures of writing the books. This year we also have a new venue called the Curio Corner. This has a mix of writing workshops, talks, some art and a lot of fun.”
This year, the Yard features Lakshmi Shankar's Curiosity Express, which takes you through temples with secret vaults and a 2000-year-old art gallery, Sonal Goyal's Champakvan about how different shapes morph into the animals of a forest, and Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan's Laugh, Learn, Repeat on all the fun that you can have with poems. Crafty Corner includes a workshop on monster masks with Deepa Balsavar, who will work with you on a mask so scary that you will even frighten yourself.
Or, as part of the Curio Corner, you can embark on a journey through India's architectural history with Tilottama Shome. You could also test your AQ, or architect quotient, at the end of the session. As always, the festival bookstore will be offering books by participating authors for sale. Kids and parents can purchase their favourite titles and get them signed by the authors during the designated book signing sessions.
During the two years of the pandemic, the festival too had to pivot to newer ways of storytelling. According to Roy, they conducted 75 online sessions with authors, illustrators and storytellers in 2020. However, last year in November, they got a small window to organise an on-ground edition at the National Rail Museum. “This year, we completed the Baroda edition last week and are all set for Delhi this Saturday and Sunday,” she adds. “People want to be at in-person events. Of course, we make sure that standard precautions like sanitiser dispensers are in place. We also request visitors to mask up as much as possible. We want visitors to feel the old familiarity of Bookaroo.”