Have you ever fallen into the pages of a book and fallen off your chair laughing? Have you ever smelled the earth as you see the picture of rain falling on parched mud? Pratham Books brings you such magic in your world with books! Pratham Books is proud to present "Bookaroo in the City" across 22 schools in Delhi. And guess who all are coming? Anthony Horowitz, Cindy Jefferies, Paro Anand, Lian Tanner ....and many other exciting names from the world of books.
On 23rd November, 'Bookaroo in the City' was travelling to Tamanna Special School in Vasant Vihar. We were greeted with a lot of warmth before the event even started. Ms. Rashmi Wahi, the principal of the school, told us a little more about the school and she even talked about the difficulties (with regard to reading) that are faced by the students in her school. She used an example of how the actual age of a child may be 15, but his/her reading ability may only be of a 5 year old. In such a scenario, the child then has to read books that have content which cater to the younger age group. So, what about books for this 15 year old with content that was simple enough for him to understand and which also addresses the things that he/she faces at that age?She talked about the need of books with simple content to cater to this demographic. This interesting anecdote made us all think of whether such books exist in India. If so, where can one find them? (If any of you can help us answer this question, please leave a comment at the end of this post and let us know. Thank you!)
But, now....back to the storytelling session from that day. We entered a room in the basement of the school that easily had about 50-60 kids who were there to attend the session by Ms. Mariam Karim-Ahlawat. Though there was no microphone, Mariam kept the kids engrossed with her versatile rhymes. Singing songs of idlis and dosas, vadas and sambhar - dreaming of hot crispy delights on a cold winter morning. Who wouldn't be enticed? The kids certainly showed their enthusiasm for them when they joined in and started reciting poems after Mariam. As Mariam walked around the room, trying to pay attention to all the kids in the room, she seamlessly moved onto another poem about a blue broom. Imitating the noises that a broom makes (swish-swish, etc), Mariam almost sounded like a DJ creating a new mix. The children loved her rhymes and joined in cheerfully and filled the room with giggles as they learnt more about the rhyme.
After reciting the rhymes, Mariam went on to read from our books 'Playtime' and 'Rain Rain'. As she told the story, she incorporated the use of the blackboard to illustrate the story she was telling. Though she instructed the children to draw something particular only later in the event, many of the children surprised her and us with the beautiful drawings they created as she was telling the story. Elephants, rabbits, clouds and fish emerged from the blank sheets the children were given.
I recall watching a rather reluctant boy enter the hall midway through the event. He sat away from the larger group of children, faced away from the session and kept to himself. He would occasionally look up and watch us and we would smile back in return. It was heartening to notice that towards the end of the event, he could not resist joining the storytelling session happening around him and started participating. Better late than never eh?
But the icing on the top of the cake was when we went to meet the Principal after the event and she thanked Mariam profusely and went on to add that she had been observing the children and that some children who never respond during class were actually responding during the session. The magic of stories maybe?
View more images from all the Bookaroo events here.