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‘Cool’ new Pakistani children’s magazine hopes to inspire young generation of readers

Buraq Shabbir

KARACHI: A recently launched children’s publication called Risala hopes to recreate the “special” magazine experience of the past for a new generation of Pakistani kids who are deprived of print productions to read and publish their original work in, the editors said.

Risala was conceived as a throwback to publications such as “Naunehal” and “Taleem-o-Tarbiat,” which carried short story and poetry contributions from young readers, as well as vibrant art and glossy posters that they could hang up or save.

Risala magazine, aimed at kids aged 8-14, describes itself on its Instagram page as “an English language literary magazine for young people” and is a joint effort by Mina Malik and Hassan Tahir Latif. Malik is an Oxford-trained writer and poet and the prose editor at The Aleph Review, an annual anthology of creative expression from Pakistan. Latif, a writer, editor and photographer, is managing editor at The Aleph Review.

Risala is being published as the first project of The Peepul Press, a publishing house co-founded by Malik and Latif. The first volume came out last week and is available for readers to order online. It will also be available to purchase at select bookstores and retail outlets across Pakistan and can be posted to readers outside Pakistan as well.

“It’s an English-language magazine that hopes to recreate that special magazine experience (and exposure to brilliant Pakistani creatives) for a new generation of readers,” editors Malik and Latif told Arab News in a statement.

The editors said though young people now frequently used their electronic gadgets to play games and access social media, they still preferred to read in print:

“As editors for a literary journal, we were aware that there isn’t a platform for children serious about their creative work to submit to … The pleasure of a printed volume in hand is one we really believe in! Reading is still alive in young people’s lives and we are very excited for Risala to be part of that.”

The magazine’s logo is a ring-necked parakeet, a small, green and very sociable parrot: “[It] is the quintessential Pakistani bird, curious and clever, just like our Risala readers,” the publication said.

The inaugural cover of Risala has been designed by multidisciplinary illustrator Rohama Malik and shows mythological creatures from around the world surrounding a magic portal of limitless possibilities.

The magazine features an Editors’ Picks section in which Mina and Latif recommend books and poetry, as well as submissions by contributors who the editors said had shared their excitement and vision for a “cool” children’s magazine.

“Their [contributors’] generosity lights up the magazine,” the Risala editors said. “Going forward, we will also be featuring original work from our readers, as Risala is primarily a platform for young people to see their work in print.”

The magazine will remain open for submissions on a rolling basis. Some sections in the magazine will vary slightly from issue to issue, the editors said, but most would be a constant in subsequent iterations. The first issue features literary work on science, short stories, poetry, art, games, a fun celebrity interview and a piece de resistance, a centerfold glossy poster that can be pulled out and pasted to a wall.

“Our content is produced by Pakistanis for Pakistanis,” the editors said, “but there’s nothing about stories, music, art and poems that doesn’t appeal universally.”

Courtesy: arabnews