The Hindu Lit for Life festival (January 14-16 at Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall, Chennai) celebrates books, literature, authors and creativity. The seventh edition promises something extra — a children’s literary festival, where little ones can appreciate the magic of storytelling through a variety of workshops. “ The Hindu has consistently catered to the interests of children through its publications such as Young World and The Hindu – In School , believing that youngsters need to be exposed to the magic of books and the practice of reading outside classrooms. With this children’s festival, we hope to build on that,” says Nirmala Lakshman, festival director and director of The Hindu group of publications.
Children between the ages of five and 12 can look forward to sessions on storytelling, theatre and creative writing, a science laboratory, Zumba session, an open-air library and more, which will be organised at two themed venues — Enchanted Land and Magic Burrow. Here’s a glimpse of what to expect:
Stories on stage
The only thing better than reading a story is watching it being enacted. City-based theatre group Crea Shakthi will organise a workshop titled Stories on Stage. “All our stories are becoming 140 characters. Kids have wonderful ideas, but they are not able to dig deeper,” explains Dushyanth Gunashekar, creative head of Crea Shakthi. “The session will begin with an interactive performance that will help children come up with their own ideas as to how they’d like to take the story forward. This will start them off on a process of questioning things and becoming curious about the world,” he adds.
January 14, noon to 1 p.m. (age group 5-8) and January 16, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (age group 9-12)
Let’s make a story
At a time when most children are exposed to stories through Disney animations and books written by western authors, Vikram Sridhar plans to keep it local. “I’m a Ramu-Shamu rather than a Harry Potter, so I will focus on localised stories (based in Alwarpet or Teynampet) based on reality,” says the 33-year-old Bangalore-based storyteller. He will perform a story for the younger children and help them develop a tale of their own; the older ones will get to dabble with theatre.
Have Fun with Stories: January 14, 9.45 a.m. to 10.45 a.m. (age group 9-12); Let’s Make a Story: 11 a.m. to noon (age group 5-8), and noon to 1 p.m. (age group 9-12); Also sign up for Bangalore-based writer Andaleeb Wajid’s creative writing workshop, The Never-Ending Story, on January 14, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (age group 5-8), and 11 a.m. to noon (age group 9-12).
Give children crayons and they will tell you stories. In his workshop, Bangalore-based illustrator Vinayak Varma will help them express themselves better. “I will first help them to imagine a character using words and then I’ll draw it. Then I’ll get them to do the same. This will give them an insight into how one goes from descriptions to an image,” shares the 34-year-old. “And if I can get them to extend the idea into something they can create at home or school later, that will be great.”
January 14, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. (age group 5-8).
Arefa Tehsin believes that a curiosity to know about the wild must be instilled in children when they are young. Especially since we are now in the “midst of the sixth mass extinction after the Ice Age”. “Children, especially in cities, are almost completely alienated from Nature. The bond with the wild needs to be re-established, not by preaching, but by using an interesting medium like stories,” says the novelist and ex-Honorary Wildlife Warden, Udaipur.
Her workshops will be structured as talks. The first, Snake – a Foe or a Friend?, will discuss the vilified creatures, while the second, Jungle Book, will discuss interesting facts like whether an Elephant Bird really exists.
Jungle Book: January 14, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. (age group 9-12); Snake – a Foe or a Friend?, on January 15, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (age group 9-12)
Fun with Science
“We want kids to say ‘Science is awesome’,” says Supreetha Gonsalves of ScienceUtsav. Expect the workshop to be conducted in the form of a magic show, with experiments called Chemical Chameleons (involving changing colours) and Hovering Balls (dealing with aerodynamics). There are several themes, including Magic Potions and Khatron ke Khiladi, where children will see a few dangerous experiments. “We love kids more than science, so yes, safety is our priority,” she assures us.
January 15, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (age group 5-8) and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. (age group 9-12).
To register log on to http://www.youngworldclub.com/childrensfest. The fee is Rs. 1,000.
“The bond with the wild needs to be re-established, not by preaching, but by using an interesting medium like stories”