Bengaluru’s very first travelling bookstore for children and young adults


‘Bookalore’ is bringing young readers book-centric delights through readings, workshops, interactions, performances, quizzes, theatre, music, dance, art, puppetry, storytelling and more!

Image Credit: Shyam Madhavan Sarada

If you can’t afford to travel, just pick a book and the places you can explore are plenty. A book is certainly a man’s best companion, and the perfect age to find this company is the golden years of one’s life — the childhood.

Bookalore, Bengaluru’s first travelling book club for children and young adults, was set up with an idea to bring children and books together by promoting the joy of reading among children, and showcasing children’s books by Indian authors and illustrators. In January 2013, a group of city-based children’s authors, illustrators and a librarian came together to form Bookalore, as an independent, not-for-profit community.

Bengaluru’s Big Little Book Club

The core group of children’s writers, illustrators, editors, librarians, teachers and filmmakers came together with a few ideas in mind. The main intent was to bring young readers face-to-face with the invisible folks behind Indian children’s books and share the work of lesser-known international children’s writers which could delight and inspire the children.

As creators of Indian books and content for children, Bookalore found few initiatives that brought children and books together through fun. The interface between children and Indian books was almost non-existent in Bengaluru.

"We brainstormed about engaging ways to fill the gap that would bring joy to children and their parents, the authors and illustrators alike. We were equally motivated by the need to make the creators of Indian children’s books more visible to readers,” says Greystroke a.k.a Shyam Madhavan Sarada, an author, illustrator, filmmaker, and one of the members of Bookalore.

Image Credit: Shyam Madhavan Sarada

The founders are Aditi De (author & editor), Asha Nehemiah (author), Poile Sengupta (author & playwright), Shyam Madhavan Sarada (illustrator & filmmaker), Vidya Mani (author & editor), Vijaylakshmi Nagaraj (author & storyteller), Vimala Malhotra (reading consultant & librarian), and Muthamma Devaya (activist and entrepreneur).

“We sought to bring young readers book-centric delights through readings, workshops, interactions, performances, quizzes, and more,” says Shyam Madhavan.

Travelling book carnival

Bookalore was originally conceptualised as a travelling book carnival and now it hopes to cover every corner of Bengaluru, with the support of partners across public and private spaces. The forum reaches out to both young readers with access to well-stocked school libraries, and those to whom a book is a rare treat.

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Bookalore has organised various events for children such as dramatised book-readings, meet-the-author sessions, and workshops to create books from scratch. Besides, it has conducted demonstrations of storybook illustrations, interactive quizzes, and creative writing workshops.

Whether at a school, an art gallery, a library, or a club, we introduce delightful add-on elements like crafts, quizzes, workshops, games, songs, or storytelling. Children at Bookalore events have created masks, woollen ants, paper snakes, cartoon strips, even entire books from scratch. Author Vishakha Chanchani, for instance, encouraged them to play with real clay when she presented her award-winning book, The House that Sonabai Built. Young adult author Suzanne Sangi shared Facebook Phantom through a rollicking evening when she sang with her pop band, says Shyam Madhavan.
Image Credit: Shyam Madhavan Sarada

Bookalore now engages with performers from theatre, music, dance, art, puppetry and storytelling to create memorable events for children. Today, Bookalore partners with venues like libraries, schools, community halls, club houses, bookstores, cultural centres, theatres, and art galleries to host events across Bengaluru.

It also promotes budding authors and writers by showcasing their books, by taking them to schools, and introducing them to readers and parents everywhere. Since 2013, Bookalore has been hosting six to ten events every year.

“Schools like the Army Public School and Anweshana Montessori School, Bengaluru, have invited us back annually because they feel we have made books and reading cool again for their students. That is our best testimonial,” says one of the members of Bookalore.

Funky Rainbow

Image Credit: Shyam Madhavan Sarada

Bookalore events have an in-house travelling bookstore, ‘Funky Rainbow’ at most venues. The events organised are funded by the members of Bookalore. Parents, teachers and librarians tell us that their stocks of Indian children’s publications are among the best in the country. Core Bookaloreans double as reading advisors to children and parents.

Funky Rainbow has become a prime value addition to parents at our events. It stocks a finely curated collection of pan-Indian children’s books, some of them unavailable at larger bookshops.

Funky Rainbow is now bringing to Bengaluru India's biggest children's literature festival, Bookaroo. The literature fest will be held at Freedom Park, Bengaluru on 2nd and 3rd September, 2017.

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