In its second year, the forthcoming Neev Literature Festival (NLF) in Bengaluru is taking yet another decisive step towards promoting children’s writing in India. Organized last year by Neev Academy, an IB (international baccalaureate) school in the city, with the aim to encourage conversation among different stakeholders in children’s publishing, the festival will recognize outstanding talents in the field this year by bestowing three Neev Children’s Book Awards (NCBA).

“We had 94 books nominated by nine publishers," says Kavita Gupta Sabharwal, co-founder of NLF and managing trustee of Neev Academy. Judged by a nine-member jury comprising writers, educators and librarians from India and beyond, the awards will be given in three categories: Picture Books, books for Young Readers, and Young Adult writing. Each winner will get a cash prize of 1 lakh and a citation. The shortlist in the three categories feature names such as Rajiv Eipe, Venita Coelho, Ranjit Lal, Ruskin Bond, Paro Anand, Zuni Chopra, among others.

NLF was inspired by the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), says Gupta Sabharwal. “I have attended JLF for many years and had many mind-blowing literary experiences there, but I always missed the presence of little children," she says. To address the need for a common platform for writers, publishers, readers, teachers and librarians to talk about children’s writing—one where children could participate as well—NLF began in 2017. It was also meant to draw attention to the leading lights of children’s writing in India—where, until recently, children and young readers were almost exclusively reared on a list of imported books from abroad. The festival, which is self-funded, will host about 70 guests, including writers, educators, librarians, editors, illustrators and storytellers. Some prominent participants include Paro Anand, Shabnam Minwalla, Samhita Arni, Ranjit Lal and Jayant Kripalani.

The Neev Literature Festival will be held at the Neev Academy (Yemalur Campus), in Bengaluru, from 27-29 September. For details, visit www.neevliteraturefestival.org/about

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