Monday, March 23, 2009

World Storytelling Day Celebrations at Pratham Books

Pratham Books celebrated World Storytelling Day with kids from the Akshara library in Annasandrapalya, Bangalore and kids from Central Manor, Pennsylvania. The event aimed at allowing kids from both countries to share stories and learn about different cultures.


25 children from Central Manor trooped in almost 2 hours earlier than their normal school session to come chat with their Indian friends who were eagerly waiting at the Akshara library from 5 pm. Even parents came to the library to watch their children participate in this event of exchanging “kathe’s” (stories) with children in America.

The storytelling session was held via Skype and as soon as the video link was established, the Indian kids said “Wow” in a chorus as they saw their friends on the other side. At Central Manor, children were shown where their new friends were located on Google Maps and were introduced to some Indian music before the reading session started.

After a short introductory session from both sides, the kids from Central Manor recited the Pledge to their flag and informed us about how they started their morning in their school. And then the reading began…

After getting over their initial shyness, all the children began to read with a lot of confidence and showed each other pictures from their books as they read. After swapping a story, children were free to ask each other questions related to the books. Some of the kids from CM wondered if we also celebrate birthdays with birthday cakes and if we ate spaghetti. They were told about a local dish eaten in Karnataka called “shavige” which is similar to spaghetti.

After most of the kids from both sides swapped stories, it was time for a question and answer session. The session was a big hit with all the kids and the questions didn’t seem to stop. Questions ranged from what subjects children liked to what the children wanted to become when they grew up, from what their favourite books were to what they did after school, from pets to favourite flowers, from national animals to national birds and so on. The kids at the Akshara library told the kids about cricket and clarified doubts of whether cricket was played while riding on a horse. The kids at CM talked about how the weather was changing and that ‘flowers were just about pushing up from the ground’. They talked about each other’s schools and what their schooldays were like. One little boy from the Akshara library wanted to know how money is symbolized in America and then a money bill was shown to the kids at the library. Excited by seeing their money, the kids went on to show their friends what a hundred rupee note looks like.

The question and answer session carried on and you could see the eagerness from both sides to chat with their new friends as they crowded around the computer with several questions. The skype session went on for more than an hour and ended with everyone at the Akshara library singing the national anthem.

A huge thank you to everyone who made this event possible : All the kids from Central Manor, all the storytellers from the Akshara library (Varsha, Mufeida, Murshida, Ajmal, Sharada, Ajay, Lohit), Teresa Reisinger, Shelby Foster, Shelly Arment, Arvind Venkatadri, Pankaja and all the parents who let their children participate in this event.

Also read about World Storytelling Day on the Central Manor blog.

About the Akshara library at Annasandrapalya: This is a community library which is currently sponsored by Juniper Networks. It has been running since 2006 and around 1004 children from around 10-11 schools in the neighbourhood visit this library. Learn more about the Akshara libraries here.

5 comments:

  1. Absolutely delightful!!!! purvi

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  2. What an outstanding cross-cultural event. A big thank you to Pratham Books and the Akshara Library teams for being such wonderful partners!

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  3. Thanks Purvi and Charlie.

    @Charlie : Looking forward to more collaborations with Central Manor!

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  4. This is just wonderful! You guys are really making a difference by giving these kids a one of a kind educational experience!

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  5. I always believe education is divine and you guys are proving it.Kudos to you work.Keep going.

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