Children’s books have mostly been conveniently sidelined as extraneous, simplistic literature. Yet, children’s literature serves an important purpose, that of promoting reading as a pleasure-activity amongst children. And it does require an equally deft mind, if not more, to write these narratives. A child reader is much more complex than some might think, being in his/her formative stages and thus, being significantly influenced by the texts he/she gets to read. A children’s book then, is a complex interplay of psychological processes and creative imagination. Although there are countless awards meant specifically to acknowledge children’s fiction writers, a larger event devoted solely to the genre is requisite for it to be deservedly deemed as an indispensible part of the literary panorama. And that is what the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, held annually in Italy, aims to do.
One of the most celebrated children’s book festivals around the world, The Bologna Book Fair has been held yearly since 1963. It is usually held for four consecutive days in either March or April. Supported by coveted awards like the Bologna Ragazzi Awards and the Opera Prima for debut writers, the event is a grand affair that strives to give a wider platform and exposure to children’s books writers, literary agents, illustrators, licensors and licensees, printers, distributors, librarians and booksellers to not only meet and sell copyrights, but also strengthen professional relationships. Adapted works like movies and cartoons are also appraised and lauded. The fair sees widespread participation of professionals from across the world, the current measure being of about 1300 exhibitors from over 75 countries participating last year. Notable initiatives like the Illustrator’s Exhibition and Literary Agents Centre also serve as effective incentives to increase professional interaction and work to expand the children’s copyright market. A score of over 600 journalists representing 70 countries also ensures good coverage and attention for the Fair.
With the grand scale the event is held on, the question asked is whether children’s literature really requires the effort? The Fair is aimed at promoting awareness in the lucrative field of children’s copyright content, seeing the kind of stature children’s literature has attained today. It not only aids in enriching and maintaining good business relationships and exploit the profits of an expanding market, but also brings to the fore the true reach and scope a simple illustrated book written for an 8-year-old has.