The second Children’s Literature Festival – KathaVana, was organized by Azim Premji Foundation during December 12th -14th, 2013 at Makkala Koota in Bangalore. An organization working with children since seven decades, Makkala Koota, located in the heart of the city, provided the right ambience for the event.
S.V.Manjunath, Head of Azim Premji Founadtion’s Karnataka State Institute invited the Chief Guest T.S. Nagabharna, noted director and theater personality to declare the festival open. The three day bi-lingual festival was set into motion by the Chief Guest’s inaugural address where he brought in different aspects of the need for children’s literature and showed concern on the increasing violence in films, and literature that cater to children. Anurag Behar, Vice Chancellor - Azim Premji University narrated a story next and took the children into the world of imagination and fantasy. On behalf of Azim Premji University, Mr. Behar expressed his gratitude to the teachers, head teachers, the education functionaries including the Block Education Officer (BEO) and Cluster Resource Persons (CRPs) and the children for facilitating KathaVana. A small group of children from Kodati Gram Panchayat shared their views on KathaVana through a brief skit. The inaugural sessions closed by the encouraging address by Umashanker Periodi who urged the children to let go of all their inhibitions and have fun throughout the festival. This was followed by two panel discussions.
Panel 1 : History of Children’s Literature in Karnataka
The panel discussion in Kannada was led by Dr. C N Ramachandran, acclaimed Kannada writer and critic. The panelists included eminent personalities from Kannada Literature and Arts :Dr. H S Raghavendra Rao, a noted critic; Dr. L G Meera, a well-known dancer and writer; Dr. O L Nagabhushana Swamy, a prolific writer, editor and critic and Dr. S V Kashyap, noted theatre personality and playwright.
Panel 2: “Why does Children’s Literature Matter?”
This panel session put forth three broad objectives:
I. Why does reading matter?
II. What is good children’s literature?
III. How can we take children’s literature forward?
Facilitated by Umesh Malhotra, founder of Hippocampus, the panelists were Asha Nehemiah, author of children’s stories;Usha Mukunda, former Librarian, CFL; Deepa Nayar of Tulika Books; Shailaja Menon, Faculty at Azim Premji University.
Workshops, Meet-the-Author, Puppetry, Book Exhibition and Theater
Apart from all the activity centers running for kids and the book exhibition, the second day was mainly devoted to workshops exclusively for teachers and librarians.
The workshop on ‘Setting up a Library and Using Libraries Effectively’ by Usha Mukunda and Aparna Ananthswamy was a bilingual session. One of the workshop was “Selecting Books and Conducting Read-alouds” by Sujata Noronha who demonstrated how to do a read-aloud, including asking for predictions, providing help with vocabulary that would come up in the text, and stopping to think-aloud at critical points of the text, and asking for responses to the story at the end. ‘Sharing of Experience by Librarians’ was the other short workshop facilitated by Shaifali from Hippocampus. There was sharing from teachers and a group of young children representing the Chagalatti Child Right Trust presented their experience of starting, maintaining and running a community library. The session ended with a group game conducted by the children.
Meet the author/illustrator were sessions for children to have opportunity to connect with these literary person. To understand how they plan to write, how much time they take and how do they get the ideas etc.
The authors with whom children interacted were Mala Kumar from Pratham, Mr Ramgopal Vallath from Azim Premji Foundation, Revathi Suresh and illustrator Vishaka Chanchani. This was unique experience for children as they had never before met any author at close quarters to sit with and discuss.
Local story telling and puppetry were part of the festival. For building literacy skills through theatre & other arts, the Tarkita team from Mangalore engaged the audience both young and the old alike, with their power-packed performances. On the final day, the Tarikita team effortlessly communicated important messages to children about child rights, evils of child marriage, gender sensibilities, through folk songs and stories, keeping the entertainment value unscathed. They were also successful in stirring the imaginative faculties of the children by engaging them in story creation. The puppetry stall attracted both young and old alike all through the three days. Activity centers c various conducted combination of activities where in children could get a peep into the literary world and express themselves through writing, drawing or a craft.
Book exhibition from the leading publishers of children’s literature showcased books which are not available in the usual book stores. Hindi, Kannada and English language books were part of the exhibition.
The concluding event for the festival was Bangalore Little Theater’s performance of Tenali Raman. Colorful, energetic and humorous, the highly animated performance brought an appropriate close to the festival.
The three days had the participation of 1800 children and 300 teachers, largely from government schools
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