I was invited to conduct a book reading of my nonfiction book Greet When You Meet(National Book Trust) at the inaugural HAMS(Holy Angels Marthoma School, Mulund) litfest today. Children of  2nd and 3rd std attended the session which included a drawing activity and a collective musical story.

Children of preprimary and primary school participated in the two day  litfest which was the brainchild of Jayshree Murali( NGO Vidya) who believes literary festivals should be made more accessible to kids from underprivileged backgrounds. The school consists of a large number of first generation learners who were attending a nonacademic book event for the first time in their lives.

The litfest stood out for three reasons.  The teachers of the school owned the event  by  maximising the use of technology and  available digital resources. A mobile phone torch was used to  narrate the story of a bat. Smart boards were used for digitised storytelling. All the children participating in the litfest brought two books- one for a friend and one for themselves. After the litfest, the school honoured the teaching and nonteaching staff who made this event possible.  This kind of gesture is extremely rare from school managements.

Book distributor Samir Kapadia  displayed a wide variety of pocket friendly English, Hindi and Marathi books from Pratham, Eklavya, Children’s Book Trust, National Book Trust  and Tulika.   For two days the kids tickled their imagination and swam in a sea of books.   So connected did the kids feel with Samir at the end of the two day event that they started addressing him as ‘Bhaiya'(brother).

Logistics prevented the school authorities from having events for the secondary school children. I am sure the response from this year’s litfest will encourage the school management to hold literary events for the secondary school children in the next academic year.

The litfest was ably supported by Sampurna Chatterjee( Pratham books) and Mini Abraham(principal of Holy Angels).Samir Kapadia summed the mood of the litfest by saying ” Books make happy children. Happy Children = Happy Families= Happy Mumbai.”

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