28th April 2018

250 Children Advocates showcase voices of 116,302 children from nine states

Reinforcing the commitment to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls, Plan India today announced the first edition of the Children’s Literary Festival in the city of Lucknow. The Festival aims at promoting quality education through joyful classroom learning and gender equality in children’s literature, and textbooks thus contributing to the larger goal of girls and boys being able to learn, lead, decide and thrive.

More than 250 children from nine states (Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra, Bihar and Jharkhand) will participate in the festival designed to accelerate the culture of reading through interactive processes such as games, story-telling, visualisation of print through art forms.

As the first of its kind in the city, the literary festival for children will provide an excellent avenue for creativity, imagination and a joyful exchange of ideas between children from different states.

Given the steady decline in children’s reading habits and the fact that most children’s books and literature are seen as propagating gender and other social stereotypes, the two day literary festival would also provide a platform for children, teachers, educationists and authors to influence and advocate with key stakeholders to publish low cost, gender sensitive and socially inclusive children’s books and stories.

Speaking at the event, Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India said, “Plan India has been working with local NGO partners in more than 6,000 government schools and pre-schools with the objective of promoting quality education and learning for all children. Improving the reading habits of school children to enhance their learning and academic performance is one of the key outcomes of our education and early childhood education programme. The Children’s Literary Festival is a big step towards creating a national movement which offers an interface platform for children with important stakeholders like the government, publishers, story writers to voice the need for easily accessible, joyful and inclusive reading materials; which break gender stereotypes and present gender transformative references for children.”

Sharing her experience on the state workshop, Shivangi, a member of a Children’s Club in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, said “I was not at all familiar with the terms gender equality and inclusion, but during the workshop, I got an understanding and now will promote it in our monthly meetings with children. I also learned the value of reading. I wish that there could be many more interesting books in my school library which will benefit both boys and girls.”

As a pre-cursor to the event, over the last three months 116,302 children from 776 schools across nine states participated in a series of pre-festival activities at the village/slum, district and state level.

Children celebrated the Reading Day and Week in schools where they and teachers read school books, newspapers and stories to their peers, teachers and parents, thus enhancing their interest in reading. Children also participated in sessions for representing stories in different forms using folk and performing arts.

Other festival highlights include:

Story Time – Participating children get the opportunity to read books and stories which they have written themselves to an audience of children, parents, teachers, development workers and eminent writers of children’s books.

Story Busters – The children review and rewrite popular picture books and stories by purging them of the gender and social stereotypes. In doing so, the children are able to improve their knowledge and perception towards gender equality and inclusion.

Big News by Young Minds – Young aspiring journalists from the field write and communicate on the Children’s Literacy Festival thus promoting child led advocacy towards changes in children’s literature and story books.

Charter by the Children: The Festival culminates in a “Children’s Declaration and a Charter of Demands by Children” to the government, school system and larger civil society.

About Plan India

Plan India is a nationally registered not for profit organisation striving to advance children’s rights and equality for girls, thus creating a lasting impact in the lives of vulnerable and excluded children and their communities.

Since 1979, Plan India and its partners have improved the lives of millions of children and young people by enabling them access to protection, quality education and healthcare services, a healthy environment, livelihood opportunities and participation in decisions which affect their lives.

Plan India is a member of the Plan International Federation, an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan International is active in more than 70 countries.