LAHORE (DAY 2): The first day of  the fifteenth Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) featured multiple activities designed to promote a culture of book reading in children and help them to develop their abilities in areas such as critical thinking and creative writing. The CLF has also engaged reputable organizations such as Oxford University Press, Open Society Foundations, Alif Ailaan, Toffee TV, to organize interactive sessions, workshops, training sessions, and other educational activities for children from all age groups. Numerous well-known educationists, artists, journalists, literary activists, actors, authors along with political dignitaries and foreign ambassadors such as Minister for Education, Mr. Rana Mashood, Amabassador of the European Union, His excellency, Mr. Lars Gunner Wigemark attended the opening ceremony and different sessions. Children from the age group of 4-20 attended sessions conducted by Adeel Hashmi, Baela Raza Jamil, Haseena Moin, Mira Hashmi Prof. Arfa Syeda Zehra, Khalid Anum, Sheherezade alam, Ameena Saiyid, Nadia Jamil, Aitzaz Ahsan, Fehmida Riaz, Zehra Nigah, Saife Hasan, Ali Hamza, Dr. Taimur Rehman, Raza kazim, Zambeel, Imrana Maqssod, Jamil Najam and Swati and Agyat from India  along with many other renowned personalities. Their interactive sessions and discussions included book reading, lectures, musical interactive performances, theatrics and orations, art of reading with expression, and creative arts. Laal band performed at the closing ceremony by singing Faiz’s and Sufi kalam.

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Event was widely considered as exciting and informational. Companies promoting E-learnin and use od media in classrooms conducted sessions with children to promote online learning thorough activities such as online discussions, learning through music and theatrics/drama and debates with other school children. In addition, panel discussions were organized on a wide range of topics related to child development and to encourage book reading and learning among children.

Keeping the growing significance of media in view,  The CLF was also notable in having several discussions on the use, history, and literature of Punjabi. The organisers said that they hope to promote the aesthetic and historical value of the language using the two-day event as a platform. In keeping with this, the organizers invited Punjabi poets and writers to narrate Punjabi folklore and poems to the children. The OUP, HBL and Telenor also set up activities for children. In addition to the aforementioned activities, performances like skits, mime, musical performance and plays also kept the day interesting and exciting.clf day 2-5 clf day 2-5[1] clf day 2-8 clf day 2-10

Speakers and distinguished guests focused on book reading, learning through music as only “Books and education can alleviate intolerance and extremism from our society”, while during book launch ceremony of Khaled Anum (Songs for Children) he also focused on reading and writing poems and stories for children while Aitzaz Ahsan said “we have deprived our children from cultural heritage and true history of Pakistan by distorting content in the text books”.

“I also came last year here just because you get the change in your personality as well, you engage with children and become young, I believe today’s child is not getting what they deserve, Government is not playing appropriate role” Ms. Haseena Moin added.  While Kevin Mclaven, Director Punjab, British Council said: “It’s a fabulous event as children from various social sectors are here, Literature will always remain with us, we should invest in education and literature as fiction enables us to be more creative”.

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Baela Raza Jamil (Director Programs for ITA) and Ameena Saiyid (Managing Director for OUP), the organizers of the CLF, said they are dedicated to nurturing a healthy environment of book reading in Pakistan, especially among children. A number of international and national educational and human development organizations also participated including the British Council, European Union, Alif Ailaan, Dubai Cares. Speaking about the event Ms Saiyid said, “For the OUP promoting a culture of reading Pakistan is a part of our long standing commitment to the education of Pakistan’s young people and children and continuing our historic involvement with the educational sector. We are committed to being an active part of Pakistani society and we hope our efforts result in positive development for the children who are here for this festival.”

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