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Delhi's Bookaroo festival returns this weekend to spark children's imaginations

The 15th edition of the Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival is all about discovering nature through stories and the joy of reading

A glimpse of last year's Bookaroo Children's Literature Festival.
A glimpse of last year's Bookaroo Children's Literature Festival. (Bookaroo Children's Literature Festival)

For young readers in Delhi, the annual Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival is a space for discovery, joy, and inspiration with its storytelling sessions and workshops. The 15-year-old festival returns this weekend at a new venue--the UNESCO heritage site of Delhi's Sunder Nursery.

There will be 78 sessions with 40 speakers from 12 countries. “This year we have quite a few sessions on nature and wildlife. Many books are about different elements of the environment aimed to spike children’s interest,” says festival director Swati Roy.

Also read: At Bengaluru's climate festival, children explored forests

From a storytelling session about cracking a mystery to an interactive song-filled session about the hardworking world of ants, there is a deep dive into the world that children are inheriting. “Along with stories, we are introducing wilderness walks that will cover tadpoles, dragonflies, bees, and other beings at Sundar Nursery,” says Roy.

This year, like the previous editions, the festival will be divided into zones. Children will be able to spot three familiar ones: Kahani Tree, Crafty Corner and Doodle Wall. Along with it, there will be The Pavilion, The Arches, the Amphitheatre, and the Secret Garden. All the zones will simultaneously hold different sessions, which are divided by age groups to make it easier for children to decide which one interests them.

“We will also have a tree of wishes helmed by award-winning author Johanna Schaible from Switzerland. Children write their wishes for the future and hang them on a tree like fruits, in hope that they ripen,” says Roy. Schaible will also talk about how the earth was formed and what the future looks like—an important talk for children who are witnessing rapid changes around them.

In recent years, there has been a focus on translations, and the festival will also host a session, led by Jashodhara Chakrabarti, on translating books into Indian languages for children aged eight to ten. 

While literature is the focus, Bookaroo is well known for encouraging children to express themselves through arts and crafts. “In the Doodle Wall, which is a 20-foot-long wall, every hour an illustrator will mentor children on how to draw something from a book,” Roy explains. This year there will also be workshops on how to make macrame, do embroidery, and make a bookmark using the intricate hand-cutting craft of Sanjhi.

Although children are the heroes of the festival, it’s also for the parents, says Roy. Over the years, parents have attended different sessions to learn how to tell stories, and discover what their children find interesting. For the children, it’s about the joy of reading. “It’s about showing that there is this aspect of childhood where you associate memories and joy with books,” says festival director Venkatesh M. 

Bookaroo Children's Literature Festival will be held at Sunder Nursery, Delhi on 24 and 25 November.

Also read: Perumal Murugan wins JCB Prize for Literature 2023 for ‘Fire Bird’

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