Kids’ lit festival opens on Sept 27

Neev Literature Festival will have many international and Indian authors, storytellers etc.

The second edition of the Neev Literature Festival will be at Neev Academy, Yemalur from September 27 to 29. 

The festival that is all set to take off will be hosting more than 65 celebrated International and Indian authors, storytellers, illustrators and librarians.

Touted to be the single largest event in the country to bring children’s book authors together, it will also have several Bengaluru-based authors including Andaleeb Wajid, Jahnavi Barua, Rasil Ahuja, Arundhati Venkatesh and Roopa Pai participating. 

Taking it a notch higher from last year, the Festival this year will also include the Neev Children’s Book Award (NCBA) for which 22 books have been shortlisted.

“The book shortlisting process for NCBA has been a wonderful journey. We began the process with a bias that the quality and quantity of children’s literature from India is quite limited but the long list and finally the selected shortlist have humbled us, as we recognise the great writing available. It was challenging to initiate, but truly the most amazing experience,” says Kavita Gupta Sabharwal, co-founder and curator of the festival.

As Sabharwal prepares for the three-day festival, she says for curating a festival for children one needs to first understand its audience and the importance of reading, as the choice of authors, speakers and the structure of the festival depends on it.

“A festival for children has many audiences, the children themselves and then their influencers like parents, teachers and librarians,” she says.

About the curation process, she says, “Our focus in curation is India. And therefore most of our writers are individuals who write stories of a changing India, her evolving voice, her changing characters, and issues her children relate to.”

“We do have many writers from other parts of the world, besides a leading psychologist and three wonderful librarians bringing in perspectives. Our workshops, panel discussions, interactive sessions, and also the book exhibition drive towards impact for influencers and children,” she adds.

While the participants at the festival will be addressing subjects like the rising popularity of picture books and the need to address subjects such as sexuality, religion, depression and drugs to prepare kids for life, they will also be speaking on concerns of the decline of reading habit among children.

“Go to a bus stop or a boarding gate at an airport where people used to be once buried in a book or newspaper while they waited. They can now be found buried in their smartphones either looking at photographs, on Whatsapp, taking selfies or reading material off the internet. Whatever they are doing it has less to do with books than in the pre-smartphone, pre-internet era. I don’t think the scenario is very different for kids. Kids have ventured further away from the world of books. Even school projects have a deadline of one evening because the child is expected to instantly pull up information from the internet. Nobody goes to the library or ploughs through newspapers to collect data and pictures anymore,” says Adithi Rao, a city-based author.

While e-books have hit the sales of physical books, librarians remain buoyant about their fate.

“e-Books and audio-books complement paperbacks, hardcovers and libraries. Whenever I survey students they tell me that they prefer the actual physical book and will only use the eBook on holiday or if the book is too heavy to take along with them. In fact, it’s quite hard for us librarians to “sell” e-Books - as students like the touch and smell and feel of “real” books,” says Nadine Bailey, librarian at an international school.

Participants will also share their experiences in writing for children.

“While writing for children, extra attention has to be paid to clarity of content and theme. Very young children may not be able to relate to very nuanced or oblique writing in the same manner that adults can. Thus, a clear style and precise content are vital when writing for children,” said Jahnavi Barua, another Bengaluru-based writer.

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Kids’ lit festival opens on Sept 27

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