Bookaroo Children’s Litfest in Sikkim

Picture this. A sojourn in the hills, the winding roads, and eager children with their lovely parents, all reading in the lap of nature. Bookaroo, the Children’s Literature festival is set to debut in Gangtok, Sikkim on June 28 and 29, 2019. Organised by Delhi-based Bookaroo Trust – it is India’s first literature festival of its kind. The festival, which began in November 2008 as a solo in New Delhi has since travelled to 12 cities across India and has completed 32 editions.

The venue for Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival in Gangtok is the picturesque Taktse International School. Taktse and Bookaroo share a special relationship ever since 2009 when Taktse brought out its first group of students to Bookaroo Delhi. They have been coming every year since then.

Bookaroo is travelling with 18 speakers to Gangtok, and these include storytellers, authors, illustrators and poets along with 3 local speakers from Sikkim, will be conducting 59 sessions – Storytelling, Drama, Workshops and Art & Craft. This is a fabulous opportunity to for 4-14-year-olds to come and meet, interact with them over art workshops, storytelling, puppetry, writing and more!

Sonam Paljor Denjongpa, director, Taktse International School says, “Taktse teachers and students have made a pilgrimage every November to Delhi, to attend Bookaroo, since 2009.  The impact of this event on Taktse students and teachers has been tremendous. They have returned more confident in speaking in public, in asking questions, in making conversations with adults and more importantly inspired to read more and write their own books. With Bookaroo coming to Gangtok, our children will have an exposure to literature that they have never had before. We are truly grateful to the organisers for this wonderful opportunity that they are bringing for the children in the hills. We hope that Bookaroo will inspire us to do something similar in the future.”

According to Venkatesh M, festival director, Bookaroo, “Stories from Sikkim will have a special place in Bookaroo in Gangtok this year. We are thankful to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) North East Regional Centre, Guwahati for collaborating with Bookaroo in this project. One of the main objectives of IGNCA is to promote and popularise education among children through culture.  The North East Regional Centre of IGNCA joins hands with Bookaroo Trust to fulfill this objective through the festival of children’s literature. It is their unstinting support to culture and children’s literature that has made Bookaroo Gangtok a reality. Taktse, which has kindly agreed to offer us its resources, has been a major factor in Bookaroo’s decision to come to Sikkim.”

Bookaroo Gangtok will feature Reshma Thapa Gurung, author of The Very Wiggly Tooth, who lives in the city. She will team up with the illustrator of the book, Canato Jimo to tell the story. Chewang Dorjee Bhutia also from Sikkim, now a teacher at National Institute of Design in Amaravati, will tell the story of the Cloud Eater of Sikkim. An additional treat for the children of Sikkim will be stories from neighbouring countries, Nepal and Bhutan, brought to them by Bandana Tulachan and Chador Wangmo respectively. In addition, there is Kapil Pandey, singer-cum-marathoner-cum-storyteller-cum-signage creator and Bhagirathy, a first-time storyteller in Bookaroo from Chennai will add a sprinkling of shadow puppetry in her storytelling sessions.

Author Shruthi Rao, based in the US, will be at the festival to hold a session on 20 Indians who changed the world, apart from storytelling and writing workshops. Award-winning illustrator Priya Kuriyan will hold art workshops on monsters, jungles and egg children to imagine what they would do if they had superpowers.

Those interested in the world of wildlife can go on an adventure with Deepak Dalal, the author who loves wildlife, nature, mountains, seas and forests. Deepak writes adventure stories for older children and bird stories for younger ones.

Feel the magic unfold as the speakers – Deeptha Vivekanand (storyteller), Kavita Singh Kale (Transmedia artist), Neetu Sharma (award winning activity and picture book author – illustrator), Praba Ram (author) , the Bhuli Art duo – Tanya Kotnala (illustrator and crafts fashion designer) & Tanya (nutritionist), Vinita Srimal Garg (Fantasy-Fiction writer), Asha Nehemiah (author of action-packed mysteries and funny stories for all ages) and Simrin Tamhane (creative writer/poet) –  share their delightful stories and art.

Swati Roy, festival director, Bookaroo informs, “In 2019-20, apart from taking Bookaroo to Sikkim we will travel to six other cities, most of which are new ones. Delhi and Srinagar will be repeats from last year. We are additionally planning an Urdu festival in Srinagar this year in the month of September. Bookaroo will also visit Banaras and Baroda for the first time this year. The encouragement we received from Taktse in those early days reinforced our belief in our mission – to bring children and books together. Thanks to that support we feel privileged that we have been able to widen our reach to yet another new city and add more children to our family of readers. We are also thankful to the community of writers, illustrators, storytellers and publishers who pose so much faith with us and travel to new and sometimes uncharted areas of the country.”