At the three-day Summer Book Fest, the second day (July 6) was the day for children, stories and rhymes. It was the second day of the event; the chairs had been arranged, the doors had opened and the young audience had started to arrive. The three-day long fest came alive at The Junction Dhaka, an arts space founded by Jatrik. Twelve of Dhaka’s top bookstores appeared at the event with the latest books in Bangla and English for display and sale, along with book signings by authors and storytelling sessions.
Eleven-thirty on a weekend morning is quite early for the regular Dhakaite, but the three storytelling sessions lined up for children had gotten many of them right out of bed. When Simeen Hussain began to tell the young audience about “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Share” and Nazia Jabeen told her stories— “Jhumi Elo Chiriyakhanai” and “Toru”, they stared wide-eyed, wondering what was in store for the protagonists! At 3:00 pm there were rhymes by Kazi Tahmina, urging the little participants to write in rhyme, “Chhorai Chhorai Likhi”.
Outside, a steady crowd of book lovers had started to gather before the makeshift book stalls. Trusted names like Bookworm, Charcha, PBS, Bookends and Oasis had special discounts for the occasion as well as brand-new books. Each stall had something special in store for the customers. Children’s bookstore Bino, for example, had a unique learning experience that sprang to life outside of books! With a special mobile app, children can experience the magic of letters, numbers and animals coming to life through augmented reality technology. Young readers had the rare opportunity to come right out of an interactive session in the other room and rushing into a space that housed their favorite bookstores—World of Children’s Books (WCB), Ikri Mikri and Mayurpankhi. The HerStory Foundation stall attracted little future super-girls who pored over their books on the inspiring superwomen of Bengal. The young adult crowd and comic book enthusiasts were eager to see what Jamil’s Comics had in store.
Mehreen Rahman, Operations Manager, Jatrik spoke about a unique aspect of the three-day occasion, “At the Dhaka Lit Fest, for example, we usually invite publishers to set up stalls at the premises,” she said. “But at The Summer Book Fest, we have brought together twelve prominent bookstores to display their collection under one roof. This is a great opportunity for the book community, readers and sellers to come together … and share their common love of books and reading.”