The Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC) has been promoting children literature for more than 30 years. Starting with just 15 members in 1981, the association today boasts of as many as 600 members from 15 different countries. Established in March 1981 by the participants of the CBT (Children Book Trust) Writers’ Workshop, the Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC) provided a much needed forum for all who are interested in the development of children’s literature in India. Since then, the association has been organizing workshops, book exhibitions, discussions on the works of its members and get-togethers with publishers and editors. More recently, AWIC organized an International Conference on Book Therapy – ‘reading is healing’ in New Delhi. The conference highlighted the healing touch of books, reading stories and interacting with the suffering and underprivileged children, minimized their suffering and revitalized their imagination.
Shankar Pillai, the man behind the Children Book Trust, was the driving force behind AWIC and the founder of the association, with SP Chatterjee as the president, JC Mehta as the vice president and Manorama Jafa as the secretary general. “The basic objective of the association was to write, inspire to write, discuss, review, revise, edit, translate, publish and produce reading material for children on a no-profit-no-loss basis. We also organized monthly workshops and seminars for the promotion of writing for children, assist writers and illustrators in the exchange of knowledge and information with other organizations in his field. We also promoted research and surveys in the area of children literature,” fondly remembers Manorama Jafa.
“Infact, illustrators later became a part of the association. Earlier, illustrators were not recognized and even their name was not printed in the books. But now, people have understood the role of illustrators and appreciate their efforts,” adds Manorama. Today, AWIC also recognizes children’s writers and illustrators and confers with Lifetime Achievement Award to not only writers but also illustrators and researchers.
Another thing which Manorama highlights is that children are very particular about the kind of books they read, not just in content but in looks as well. “The size of the book is very important as it needs to fit into a child’s hand comfortably. So, for toddlers, smaller books are preferable and with lot of visuals. For older children, tigger size books with fewer illustrations go well,” she tells.
Though today, the association has over 600 members from 15 different countries, but all does not seem well with the association. The association has been running from a room in CBT office. Recently, they have been asked to vacate the premises. “We do not have other place to go where we can shift our office,” tells Manorama. There seems to be some difference of openion resulting into this newer challenge.
Despite all odds, Manorama is now planning an international conference on literacy and books. “It is a dream project and the planning has already begun,” she says. We all hope that AWIC continues to flourish and nurture children literature.
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