60th Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) Day 1

Day 1 of the two-day programme of 60th Children’s Literature Festival CLF culminated at Arts Council, with children and adults who participated with great gusto in all the sessions. 

All locations of the venue being used for the festival had been renamed by CLF to commemorate authors, literati, artists, citizens, noble prize winners and grand geographies of Pakistan like Shah Abdul Latif Bithai Auditorium, Sohail Rana open air theatre, Hakim Said ki Baithak, Anita Ghulam Ali Auditorium, Fahmida Riaz ki Baithak, Dr Hamida Khuhro ki Baithak, Sadequain Gali, Bab-e-Hingol, Abdus Salam labs, Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta Courtyard, and Burns Road.

The festival opened with multiple sessions taking place simultaneously leaving one hard put to decide which one to attend and which to leave. One could even see people hopping from one to another in a bid to attend as many as possible within the same time slot.  

The first day saw Bhittai Auditorium packed with kids interested in theatre, where from a theatre workshop conducted by Atif Badar to string puppetry by Thespianz Theatre, play by Tehrik-e-Niswan to dramatic readings by Zambeel, to music and poetry, took place at different time slots.  

Sohail Rana Auditorium witnessed an open mic session for students under an expert panel followed by Sing Along with Khaled Anam, while a musical concert by young qawwals glued attendees to their seats. The inaugural programme also took place here as well, with Syed Sardar Ali Shah, Minister Education and Literacy Education, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities as the chief guest. Among recitations, performances and speeches were special CLF Outstanding Service Awards presented to Resource Persons and Institutions that have supported CLF since 2011. Also in the same auditorium there were film screening and talks by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Shehrbano Saiyid.

The room titled Hakim Said ki Baithak had sessions through the day varying from storytelling, theatre workshops, discussions on children’s history of Sindh by Rumana Husain in conversation with Tom Moore, to talks on books and innovative approaches to learning.

Anita Ghulam Ali Auditorium had book launches, a play, panel discussions and talks on Karachi’s Heritage Buildings by architect Mukhtar Husain.

In Fahmida Riaz ki Baithak OUP had a morning session on the great poet after whom the room was named and her contribution to children’s literature after which there was full-day activity on the art of bookmaking. 

Dr Hamida Khuhro ki Baithak had various sessions on storytelling, emotional and mental health by Arsalan Larik, interactive fun games for children, a young authors forum, a session on reading improvement programme and one on creating awareness about the welfare of donkeys. 

The full day programme comprised sessions at Sadequain Gali which was divided into learning spaces where through the day on-going activities took place including arts and crafts workshops, theme games, photo both and exhibition on children’s book illustrations. 

Bab-e-Hingol featured a sand and 3-D art performative interactive display through the day while Abdus Salam Labs featured various digital activities. To highlight the creative side of our young generation, Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta Courtyard featured on-going activities like clay modelling, digital 3D activities, pop-up learning, documentary and hands-on activities on Makli, mental health camp, learning and reading corner.

CLF’s sponsors included Oxford University Press (OUP), British Council, Telenor, Allied Bank, UNESCO, Italian Agency For Development Cooperation and National Foods. The festival attended by media, parents, teachers and students of various institutions was a huge success and the participants benefited greatly from it.

It may be noted that CLF is the largest learning festival for children and teachers in Pakistan enabling children to learn with all their multiple senses and intelligences. Managed by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), it has a nationwide footprint having completed 59 CLFs (in all four provincial capitals and Islamabad and over 25 districts of the country, reaching over 1.4 million children and teachers since its inception in November 2011.