Source ; The Indian Express
100 sessions with over 50 speakers from across 13 countries will be held in Delhi as part of the current edition, comprising dramatised reading, theatre, storytelling, book launches, workshops and puppet shows.
Bookaroo is in its 10th edition. What began as a solo festival in Delhi in 2008 now travels to nine cities every year. Curated by Swati Roy, Jo Williams and M Venkatesh, it is produced in collaboration with various publishing houses, art councils and embassies. This year, it won the Literary Festival of the Year award at the London Book Fair. Over the weekend, 100 sessions with over 50 speakers from across 13 countries will be held in Delhi as part of the current edition, comprising dramatised reading, theatre, storytelling, book launches, workshops and puppet shows. Excerpts from an interview with Roy:
How did Bookaroo start?
We opened a children’s bookshop called Eureka in Alaknanda (Delhi) way back in 2003, and used to do a lot of sessions for children there. But it was very small, so we shifted the sessions to parks, community centres, apartment complexes, and one thing led to another. We realised there was great thirst in children and parents, as we had to turn people back because of less space. In 2008, we spoke to publishers and authors, and decided that something like this can be planned.
How do you see the last 10 years?
The first year was full of nervousness and excitement. We held it in Anandgram for the first two years; in 2010, we moved to IGNCA, and got an offer from Srinagar, which became the first venue outside of Delhi for Bookaroo. We got invited to Pune, and then to Malaysia. We have been to Goa, Ahmedabad and Kolkata, and this year, we went to Bengaluru as well. It has increased in size, popularity, and acceptance — both from the audience and the creators. It feels like coming-of-age for a children’s literature festival, which was missing in India.
What do you keep in mind while curating the festival?
The moto is to get children and books together to celebrate the joy of reading. If we had dry readings or book launches, it would be like adults are talking to each other, but the child has to have an active participation. We curate the programmes age-wise in a band of two years, which include storytelling, art and craft, talks, panel discussions, poetry and dramatised readings. For everything, the bottom line is there should be a book or published work.
Do you think children have stopped reading due to the rise in technology?
I believe they are still reading because they are coming to Bookaroo. We don’t have any other attractions like games, prizes, tattoos, face masks/painting; we simply have books. The audience size is growing every year, cities have grown and more publishers want to be involved. Yes, there is a growth in technology, but only a small percentage who can afford it.
What changes do you see in children’s literature over the years?
There’s been an explosion of genres. Authors are dealing with subjects such as sexuality, stress, growing-up issues, even death. This year, authors will talk about disability and depression. Earlier, people weren’t ready to experiment.