The Amar Ekushey Book Fair hosted an elevated festive mood yesterday, as a large number of children visited the venue with their parents as part of special children’s hours.
The “Shishu Prohor,” a special time dedicated to children by the Bangla Academy authority, was observed between 11am and 3pm at the book fair yesterday. Similar children’s hours would also be observed on February 15 and 22.
For the first time, 25 stalls – containing only children’s books – have been distributed at the Bangla Academy premises, while a corner has also been dedicated for the children.
Dipro Saha, a student of class one, was looking through books at a stall. Dipro, who had “Amar Ekushey Boi Mela” painted on both his cheeks, said: “I love books with picture. I watched on television that children are buying books here. I asked my father to bring me here.”.
Suman Saha, Dipro’s father, said he was happy to be at the fair with his son, after getting some time off from work on the weekend.
Many of the children at the fair also fashioned face-paintings like Dipro and were seen enthusiastically roaming around and looking through children’s books.
Manik Mia, a garment worker, brought his children Rafi and Tutul to the fair for buying them books. He said: “I was not able to study as much as I wanted, but I want to educate them [the children]. I brought them here to grow their interest about books. I bought colourful books on liberation war for them.”
Shahriar Ahmed, who had brought his nephew to the book fair, however, said: “I did not find a good number of quality books here. Publishers brought few attractive books, but these are not able to enrich a child’s mind,” Shahriar told the Dhaka Tribune.
Although yesterday was a public holiday, the number of visitors was slimmer than the previous day. Many publishers of children’s books expressed discontent as sales were not as high as expected.
Mostak Royhan, publisher of Adigonto publisher, said: “Most of the schools are open on Saturday. That is why the presence of children was not that much.” It would have been more relevant if the authority announced Friday as “Shishu Prohor,” he added.
A total of 142 new books were published yesterday, the eighth day of the fair. The new publications included Imdadul Hoque Milon’s “Priojon Niye Pach Uponyash” and Syed Shamsul Haque’s “Ogni Jole Kobita Komol.”
A discussion titled “Wahidul Haque: Bangladesh e Rabindra Shongit er Prochar o Proshar” was held at the central stage of the fair. Presided over by Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman, the discussion saw its keynote paper being presented by Dipa Bondopadhdhay.