Writers for kids to get their due: 3 awards from Neev literature Festival

Moreover, children should be encouraged to read during their formative years.

Bengaluru: To encourage, recognise and appreciate children’s literature, the second edition of Neev Literature Festival (NLF) will include the first ever Neev Children’s Book Awards (NCBA) in Picture Books, Young Readers Books and Young Adults Books categories. Each award carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, along with a citation which will be presented at the special ceremony during the NLF, slated to be held in the city from September 27 to 29.

Expressing her delight over the expanding reach of children’s literature in the country, illustrator Ruchi Shah said that publishers are contributing to it by exploring newer topics and promoting off-beat works. “It is important to present characters and issues that our young readers can relate to, more from the Indian space than the popular West. Moreover, children should be encouraged to read during their formative years. After that they should by allowed by their parents, teachers and librarians to pick their own choice,” she told Deccan Chronicle.

Our Incredible Cow (Tulika, 2013), authored by late Mahasweta Devi, for which Ruchi is the illustrator is one op the three Picture Books shortlisted for NCBA this year.

Journalist-turned-children’s author Shabnam Minwalla’s What Maya Saw (Harper Collins, 2017) is one among the three shortlisted under the Young Adult Books category. On her tryst with children’s literature since 2013, she said that suddenly a lot of publishers are showing interest in children’s literature. “The interest might not directly translate into the number of copies being sold. But a lot is happening, be it literature fests, similar gatherings or appreciation sessions,” she said, adding that she is part of at least one such gathering a month. She said that today’s children have a lot to read from scenarios that they can easily relate to, remembering how she thought there was no scope for adventures in her “boring and smoke-filled city” during her childhood. “The stories I write are always set in Mumbai revolving around upper middle class families. Children are excited to read about their characters eating at the same restaurants they go to and taking the same roads that they are familiar with,” she explained.

‘Never expected to find great writing in India’ Managing Trustee of Neev Academy and Co-founder of the Neev Literature Festival Kavita Gupta Sabharwal said that initially, the organisers were doubtful of finding good works for the awards. “We began with the bias that the quality and quantity of children’s literature from the country is quite limited. But the long list and finally the shortlist have humbled us, as we recognise that great writing available,” she said.

To reinforce the vision that to learn is more important than knowing in a world which believes Google knows everything, the LitFest and NCBA are designed to catalyse conversations between children, parents, teachers and authors, she said. “Our children mostly read Western literature, which is great but not enough. They must read stories of a changing India, her evolving voice, her changing characters and issues they relate to. The world must get a view into these stories,” she said.

The prize winners in each category are being decided by an International jury of three educators (Colin Kelman, Dr Anuradha Ruhil Barua and Dr Dhooleka Raj), three writers (Rasil Ahuja, Gita Varda rajan and Maya Thiaga rajan) and three librarians (Jeremy Wilette, Katie Day and Nadine Bailey). The three winners of NCBA 2018 will be announced by September-end during the Neev Literature Festival.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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