One of the major events of last week was the book fair. My diary was boldly marked for a day or two there. Book fairs are huge and because I am not getting any younger or sprightlier year after year, I need more than one day to visit.
As I stood at the ticket booth, I was glad and sorry to see no huge queues of jostling humanity out there. Glad because it makes my work easier. Sorry because we could do with some more book lovers.
But then it was only half an hour since the start time. As I sauntered in I saw large groups of school children herded together by their harassed teachers. Now this was some good education by the schools. Even if the children pick up one book on their own, it was the start of a lifetime love affair.
One whole section was dedicated to Hindi and other regional languages. But I was sorry to see that the star attractions were still those authors who were writing in the last century. No new blood with exciting tales seemed to sizzle the Hindi literature plethora.
Secondly, the section for children and young adults was so insipid. The books lacked color and imagination. I couldn’t find anything that would excite my kid.
Also Hindi writers seem to have a very low view of the kids IQ. I remember picking up a Hindi magazine, much popular in my days, for my daughter. She never touched it. On prodding, this is what comes out, “Mom who reads stories of chikoo the rabbit or Raja and rani? I am what ,four?
And then we complain that the kids do not enjoy reading their mother tongue. Publish some smashing tales with colorful covers and see the sales soar. After all 60 % of the readers do judge the book by its cover.
On my second visit to the Book Fair, I was mighty surprised to see a hoard of people thronging in. A major part were young kids giggling away in groups. Some were there just to up the cool quotient, others for a fun day out. Whatever be the incentive, do try to herd your kids to such events. If the child is a bookworm, she will herself drag you there. If not, it is the parents’ duty to try their utmost to lead the kids to the wonderful world of the written word.