BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (GPI)-- César González can’t get his son off the stage at the Feria del Libro Infantil y Juvenil, a massive annual book fair in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital. His son, Facundo, 6, doesn’t want to leave until he gets the chance to hug the puppeteers and to take a photo with them.
But his father says he understands.
“I had more fun than Facundo,” González says of the fair, with childlike amusement on his face.
González, a common last name, says that this was their first visit to the fair, which takes place annually each July during students’ winter vacation from school.
This year, the fair comprised more than 130 publishers and booksellers across 14,000 square meters at the Centro Municipal de Exposiciones. From July 9 to 28, the event drew more than 50,000 attendees, according to the fair’s website.
Fundación El Libro, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote books and reading, organized the fair. The foundation groups various organizations that promote literature, such as Sociedad Argentina de Escritores, Cámara Argentina del Libro and Cámara Argentina de Publicaciones.
Juana Paz, treasurer of Sociedad Argentina de Escritores, says that the fair has been taking place annually here for 22 years. Traditionally, it draws school groups led by teachers before the start of winter holidays. But this year, Paz says she noticed an increase in the number of parents bringing their small children to the fair.
All children can attend the fair for free, while admission for adults is 23 pesos ($5). But Paz says the challenge is attracting adolescents.
“The presence of parents accompanied by their children has grown,” she says. “It could summon more youth. More adolescents should come.”
Nelida Pessagno, a writer and vice secretrary For Fundación El Libro, says that the fair creates a space where readers can connect with authors. The foundation has 7,000 writers associated with it, and many participate in the fair.
The city government also had a stand at the fair.
Ana María Pitón, a grandmother, says she’s from a family of readers. She attended the fair with her 9-year-old granddaughter, Emilia, whom she comes with every year. For Pitón, giving a child a book or reading a story is like giving them food to eat.
“To read a book is to eat spiritually,” she says. “It is nourishing them.”
This year, there was a space especially dedicated to the Brothers Grimm. An exhibition displayed illustrations by profesional illustrators of the various fairytales such as “The Golden Bird” and “The Golden Key.”
The fair also offered various activities aimed at stimulating children’s creativity and love for literature: theatrical plays, puppet shows, magic tricks, circus acts, story readings, concerts and book signings by authors. In another area of the fair, children could play chess. Creative workshops let children paint, draw and write. Another workshop taught children about recycling.
The main objective was to promote reading as a form of information, entertainment and joy.
At last, Facundo succeeds in giving a hug to puppeteer Pablo Herrero, from the theatrical company El Juglar. Herrero says that he’s been dedicated to theater for 20 years and that he always participates in the fair, where he says the protagonist is the book.