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Unlocking The Power Of Reading

Zehra Nasim Haque

Oxford University Press (OUP) and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in collaboration with Open Society Foundations and Lok Virsa, National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, Islamabad, organized a 2-day Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) for the children of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and nearby areas on 2 and 3 October 2015 at Lok Virsa, Islamabad. As part of CLF, a Teachers’ Literature Festival (TLF) was also organized on 1 October. CLF has been founded by Baela Raza Jamil of ITA and co-founded by Ameena Saiyid, Managaing Director of OUP Pakistan. The CLF is an exciting movement developed to promote the love of books and reading among children and to encourage creativity and critical thinking among them. The festival brings together children from all backgrounds and languages to a common platform where they can learn, communicate, interact and participate in fun activities without any biases. The CLF has revolutionized how reading, writing, and thinking among children are perceived in Pakistan by showcasing imaginative ways of learning beyond textbooks and tests. It has proved to be a torch-bearer campaign, furthering equalization of all school systems (government and private schools, and madrassahs) to address the challenges of learning and reviving a culture of reading among children. Starting in Lahore in 2011, the festival is a free public event. In the last four years, CLF has held twenty-one successful events in different cities across Pakistan like Quetta, Peshawar, Bahawalpur, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Swat, Sahiwal, and Multan, attracting more than 380,000 children and adults. Participation in CLF has not been limited to eminent authors, academics, and artistes from within Pakistan only but has also included writers, storytellers, and teachers from India, Nepal, and Afghanistan, reflecting the diversity of creative ideas children are exposed to. Boasting an attendance of more than 35,000 children, teachers, parents, academics, literary personalities, artists, and performers from all over the country, the Islamabad CLF featured an exciting array of activities like talks, interactive readings, discussions and workshops by well-known children’s authors, poets and artists. The festival also included sessions on creative writing, bookmaking, poetry, comics, digital stories, writing book reviews as well as book launches, book fair, theatre, cartoons, and much more. Teachers’ Literature Festivals, held in conjunction with CLF, provide a forum for school teachers and educators to interact and exchange innovative ideas related to classroom learning and teaching methodologies. The programme of TLF is designed to lead to a better understanding of using books for triggering children’s imaginations. ...

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