National Book Day celebrations: Books are the best gift you can give your children

Book fair, reading sessions with renowned writers among features of 3-day festivities.

Our Correspondent April 21, 2013
A girl takes a look at books stacked up on the History stall. PHOTO: INP/APP


The culture of book reading received a strong show of support from the government, residents and prominent writers in Islamabad on Saturday as the National Book Foundation inaugurated a three-day celebration. The event is being held to mark the National Book Day, which is held on April 20 every year.

The festivities include a book fair, reading sessions with renowned writers and interactive activities for children. The programme is being held at the Pak-China Friendship Centre.

Around 100 booksellers and publishers from around the country are taking part in the book fair.

“There is an urgent need to reintroduce books to children. Books are the best way to lure today’s children away from video games and the Internet,” said a banker and local resident, Salman Baig.

Baig, who had brought both his primary school children to the event, said books impart real knowledge that children could easily reference in the future.

Prominent Urdu writer Intizar Hussain, recently selected as a nominee for the Man Booker Prize 2013, echoed Baig’s sentiments during the authors’ book reading festival, which is part of the programme.

“A story is not just for entertainment,” said Hussain, during a reading session of his famous book Basti. “It also invites you to think and understand.”

Literary critic and educationist Fateh Muhammad Malik spoke about a book of poems written by Nazir Naji, who is otherwise known for his journalistic writing. Malik said Naji’s poems had provoked philosophical questions about human existence.

“There has always been a limited segment of society that takes interest in reading. However, I believe this event can help stoke that interest,” said writer and poet Ataul Haq Qasmi.

One of the attractions at the festival was the presence of the Bright Star Mobile Libraries fleet, which comprises of three libraries-on-wheels.

Educationist Zareen Gandapur, a member of the fleet since its inception in 2010, said the libraries reached out daily to children studying at 17 Islamabad Model Schools across the federal capital’s rural areas.

“Most of these children do not have access to libraries. We are trying to educate them by providing books to promote their reading habits,” Gandapur said.

The mobile libraries team visits the public schools on a rotation basis and conducts reading sessions for children up to grade three. Books are lent to grade four and five students for the course of the day.

The mobile libraries are funded by the World Food Programme, the Asia Foundation with support from Department of Libraries, Gogi Studios and the San Francisco Library, Gandapur said.

Earlier, National Book Day celebrations had started with a book parade. Children from six private and public schools from the twin cities walked outside the Pak-China Friendship Centre whilst carrying banners and posters with messages promoting book reading.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2013.


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