Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Update from the Intern: Uttarakhand

When I was planning my trip for Uttarakhand I somehow misinterpreted IST – Indian stretchable time – to mean that my own time was stretchable. Visiting three places in one week somehow seemed very feasible, until I started getting specific, and realized that Sunday is not a school day... Traveling is also a factor that comes into play, and about 20 hours of traveling the first day didn't exactly help me stretch my time.

Aarohi (north of Nainital)
I spent three–four days at an organisation called Aarohi (aarohi.org), which runs a small hospital as well as a school in rural Kumaon. The school is perched on a rock overlooking a vast valley, and the two school buildings themselves are made out of beautiful pieces of stone, giving an altogether awe-inspiring impression. The small private school has fewer than 300 pupils from class 1–8, making the groups small, and if has a library room full of books, which (or course) is what drew my attention more than anything else.

I was asked to help out at the library, improve the presentation and generally boost the use of the library. Three days isn't much, but together with the librarian I separated the English books from the Hindi ones, and divided the English books into two groups depending on the level of difficulty. I also suggested that they colour label the spines, so that they if books were mixed in the future, they could easily be separated. Also, this way the children could identify books at their level more easily.

The records for issuing books showed that every once in a while a class would come and issue a set of books, and occasionally individual students came to check out a book. To boost the use of the library, I suggested that they read more at school, and also "make" children check out books they read at school, and bring them home. I don't expect them all to read avidly at home, but if they have books with them, some just might! Developing a reading culture is a slow process, and one can only work towards it step by step.

I had little time to talk to teachers and the librarian, but as promised I wrote a report with ideas and reflections, including a paragraph on the teaching of English that I observed.

Ramnagar
I had initially planned to go to both Almora and Ramnagar, but since I had to get back to a workshop for librarians at Bookaroo, I was only left with two days, barely. The first of those two days turned out to be a holiday in Ramnagar, so instead of visiting schools, I ended up visiting the Corbett Tiger Reserve with the Pratham employees. I didn't spot any tigers, but maybe that was just as well. A family of spotted deer was enough to make the trip worthwhile, and the day made for a good days rest after quite a bit of traveling and intensive school visits.

I went to two schools the following day, both were very similar. two and two classes were taught together, and the Pratham volunteer had to use the lawn outside in lack of building space. The Pratham team had decided to focus a lot on English . I understand and sympathise with the importance of English, but I am concerned with the inordinate emphasis on English, especially in the lower classes and with children who are weak in reading/writing in their mother tongue. Children should certainly learn English, but at what age (or level), how, in what way? Parents are among the stakeholders that root for English, but they are not alone. Early introduction to a foreign language is not crucial; children can learn a second language at a later stage, when their general meta-cognitive and linguistic abilities are more developed (I started learning English at age 11). It is true that up to the age of 10 (or thereabouts), children can pick up a language by just listening to it. But that is completely different from a classroom situation, and this has basically nothing to do with the early introduction of a foreign language.

My observations in Ramnagar sparked som thoughts on the role of English in Indian schools in general and Pratham programmes in particular. I am not saying English should not be taught at the lower grades, only that careful attention needs to paid to this, so that it is really beneficial, and not done at the expense of learning other things.

Events

1. JODO GYAN PITARA FAIR


  • Display of carefully selected titles of children’s book including coloring books, graded readings, stories from different states of India, activity books, reference books for teachers
  • Resource material for teaching science and maths
  • Math Lab display
  • Special category of books displayed in Hindi
  • Release of new titles of Eklavya Publication
Date:- 26 November - 5 December
Venue:- Jodogyan Resource centre, Jia Sarai, Hauz Khas, Delhi
Time:- 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

(For details of the programme, please click here)

*****

2. KALPANEYA YATRE 2010

Kalpaneya Yatre 2010 (KY) is a first-of-its-kind ten-day astronomy fest open to the public, taking place at the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, Bangalore, during November 26 – December 5, 2010.

Astronomy-based exhibits and models, sky watching, interactive experiments, activity corners, face-to-face interactions with astrophysicists, lectures, films, and art activities for children are among the many offerings available at KY. The exhibition is in Kannada and English.

KY is a collaboration of the Bangalore Association for Science Education, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Indian Space Research Organisation, and Raman Research Institute.

Join the festival by visiting the exhibition and by participating in activities – listen to a lecture, watch a film, and peer through a telescope.

One of the goals of KY is to showcase new topics in astrophysics while promoting the process of basic scientific thinking. It is in interdisciplinary and collaborative event for astronomers, educators, amateurs, students, families, and everyone.

Visit the website for more details. You can view the calendar of events here.

*****

3. BOOK LAUNCH

Via an email received from Vibha Batra


(Please click on the image for a larger view)

*****

4. ASM LIT FESTIVAL 2010 : RABINDRANATH TAGORE


The Asiatic Society of Mumbai Literary Club is pleased to announce the ASM Lit Festival 2010: Rabindranath Tagore, a three-day festival celebrating the life and work of Rabindranath Tagore in the 150th birth anniversary year of the Nobel Laureate.

As part of its programme to promote the literary arts, the Literary Club proposes to organize an annual festival, honouring eminent writers who have contributed to India’s literary heritage. This year the Literary Club honoursRabindranath Tagore through a series of events from December 3 to 5, 2010, which will include lectures, a documentary film, a panel discussion and dance-drama.

Rabindranath Tagore put India on the literary map of the world when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. A multi-faceted personality, Tagore was an exceptional poet, composer, educationist, painter, and reformer. Through the medium of this festival we hope to give people a glimpse into the genius of one of India’s most celebrated personalities.

For further information and to register for the festival, please write to: tagorefest@gmail.com or
call 9920781009.

*****

5. IDiscoveri Xseed "School of Tomorrow" Conference


School of Tomorrow is now in its second edition this year and is slated to be the biggest confluence of education leaders in this part of world. This is an uncommon opportunity to reach the people who perhaps influence the future of our children the most. The conference seeks for these leaders to engage in a high - quality dialogue with thought leaders from all walks of life and thereby create a momentum for progressive change in school education.

Date: December 7th, 2010

Venues – The conference will be simultaneously held across four cities and seamlessly integrated through a webcast .

Delhi – Taj Palace
Chennai – Taj Coramandel
Hyderabad – Taj Krishna
Mumbai – Taj Lands End

View more details here. Read about the speakers here and you can register for the event here.

Call for Papers: Asian Festival of Children’s Content

Via Singapore Book Council (via PaperTigers)

We invite writers, illustrators, preschool & primary school teachers, publishers, libraries, literary agents, distributors & retailers, translators, technology solution providers and other media professionals to take part in this festival.

Deadline: 30 November 2010
Geographical coverage: WorldwideContent: on Asia for children

The festival aims to:

i) Provide the World’s children with quality Asian content for education and entertainment.

ii) Foster excellence in the creation, production and publication of children’s materials with Asian content in all formats and to facilitate their distribution and access, first in Asia and then to children worldwide.

Type of Sessions possible:

a) Workshops (60 mins or 180 mins)

The purpose of a workshop is to provide the opportunity for participants to learn by doing and reflection.

b) Roundtable Discussions

The purpose of a Roundtable discussion is to maximise dialogue around a particular idea or project.

c) Paper Session (typically 3 papers will be grouped together)

The purpose of a Paper Session is to provide presenters with an opportunity to present the main ideas and conclusions of their work, whether these are theoretical, programmatic or the results for a study of any kind.

d) Interactive Dialogue

The purpose of an Interactive Dialogue is address a specific topic or problem in a format meant to stimulate focused dialogue.
Click here for more details.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bookaroo, Pratham Books and More...

At Pratham Books, we have been super busy with all the 'Bookaroo in the City' events (that would explain the sporadic blog posts this week). Apart from coordinating with authors and performers and schools, we've been busy learning how to make origami flowers, Japanese fans and more. We heaved a sigh of relief when 'Bookaroo in the City' ended on a successful note on Thursday.

Today (26th November) was the day when Bookaroo was open to schools and it was great that the weather cleared up, the sun came out and cast a warm spell over the bright and colourful venue. With several events scheduled at different spaces with the IGNCA grounds, one was faced by many tough decisions. Should one go and watch the paper engineer Robert Sabuda create pop-ups or should one go and listen to Leila Seth talk about being a good citizen, should one join in the vibrant singing sessions that Jeeva Raghunath was conducting or go listen to Anthony Horowitz entertain the kids with his wit? Decisions...decisions...decisions. And that is how the next two days of Bookaroo are going to be. But, fret not...whatever decision you make, be sure that you will be entertained. (Pssst: come armed with enough water and maybe even caps in case the winter sun decides to be too nice and shine down on all of us).

Visit the Bookaroo website for more information. You can also see the schedule for Saturday and Sunday by clicking here and here.

Don't forget to come say hi to us because we are conducting FOUR events this year:

27th November, 2010

1. Lenny and Tweek - Wanted: A Friend - by Mariam-Karim Ahlawat
at Kahani Tree, 12:45pm
Come and learn about making new friends. A sweet tale of friendship from a German author.

2. Follow the Blue Line : by Parthiv and Vidya Shah
at Workshop, 1:15pm
All aboard for a river trip down the Narmada

3. Grandpa Cherry Blossom : by Hema Pande and Valentina Trivedi
at Kahani Tree, 1:45 pm
Folk tales from the Land of the Rising Sun


28th November, 2010

4. Jungle Brew : by Tanya Luther Aggarwal
at Workshop, 11am
Can a little girl from a tiny village in the hills of South India actually stop a war? Meet Tanya and find out.


See you there and hope you have a splendid weekend at Bookaroo!

Bookaroo in the City (Day 7) : Enthusiastic Readers Meet an Equally Enthusiastic Author

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.

Iswarya Subbiah says...

The students of Sanskriti School, Chanakyapuri had the absolute pleasure of starting the day by listening to Australian author Wendy Orr. Author of the beloved children's book 'Nim's Island' , which was later made into a major Hollywood motion picture, Wendy Orr spoke to the children about her own journey as an author. She regaled the children with stories of her own childhood, how she started writing and where she got her inspiration from. She also read out from her book, 'The Princess and The Panther'.

The session was an interactive one with children pitching in with opinions, comments and answers. How much the kids enjoyed the session was evident in the enthusiastic questioning of the author after she finished her talk. Almost every child had something to ask or say. Wendy Orr answered each question patiently and with much joy. The session was everything that Bookaroo is representative of : a fun event with much to learn from. The students at Sanskriti School loved the session and a few even had to be forcibly ushered out of the room at the end of the session. It was a pleasure to see the response Wendy Orr received, for it reflected the interest of the children in books, stories and the world of imagination.

View more images from all the 'Bookaroo in the City' events here.

Bookaroo in the City (Day 6) : Words That Transport You to Different Worlds

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.

Jamie Mullick writes about the first part of the event in East Nizamuddin.
When you enter the MCD Primary School at East Nizamuddin, it’s hard to accept the fact that it is an MCD school. You will be pleasantly surprised that the infrastructure and facilities that are available to the children at this school is above the standards we come to expect from a school run by the MCD. And upon further investigation, you'll find out that it isn't, in fact, maintained by the MCD. The East Nizamuddin Basti, along with the school is adopted by the Aga Khan Foundation which ensures the proper availability of facilities and amenities for the school. It was by the cooperation of the kind people at The Aga Khan Foundation that 'Bookaroo in the City' was invited to this very special school.

The story telling session was conducted by renowned children's author Samina Mishra, who is the great granddaughter of Dr. Zakir Hussain, the third president of India. The stories Samina chose for the first session, which was for the children of the primary school, were in fact, translations of the stories written by Dr. Zakir Hussain. The tales chosen were Abu Khan Ki Bakri (a story which most of the children knew), Puri Jo Kadahi Se Nikal Bhaagi and Murgi Ka Nirala Baccha, a captivating tale about a baby chick who refused to help fire and water, yet was helped by them when he needed the help.


Though Samina , being her modest self, said that she usually held story-telling sessions for 20-30 children at a time, but the way she kept an audience of roughly 120+ children captivated and engrossed in her stories left us in awe. And what left me even more impressed was the fact that the children sitting at the back were also sitting in rapt attention which was evident by their active participation during the post-story discussions when Samina walked amongst the children. This is a rare feat that is incredibly hard to match, especially for such young children, who have easily wavering attention spans.
I joined the second session of this event at East Nizamuddin and absolutely loved the session with Samina.
The second session was for older students who come to the school after their regular classes. The small group of students present for the event grew slowly, but steadily. And all the children there stepped into the shoes of a young girl called Hina. Samina chose this book to read to the kids as the book is about a girl who is discovering her neighbourhood - Old Delhi (Purani Dilli). Samina talks about the importance of discovering the magic of old places and how they are equally important in today's world where they may seem rather distant from all the things we know and the places we frequent and live in. When she asked what kids knew about Purani Dilli, one of the answers that elicited laughter around the room was 'Delhi 6 - the movie'. Travelling from this current reference to Purani Dilli, Samina shed some light on the history of the place and how it used to be called 'Shahjahanabad' and that someone had once referred to it as an album of a painter.

Samina has the gift of bringing a place/situation alive with her descriptions. As she described the old woman who does Zardosi work at the Badi Haveli, the kabootar-baaz (pigeon trainers) who stands on the rooftop and scatters food to his pigeons, the young Hina who goes to school...and so on. She also touches upon the partition of India and the histories that have then developed in localities because of what happened. And in this process, she lays the foundation for what she wants to discuss : the concept of 'Home'.


Samina also mentions how important it is to go to school. When she asked the kids if they all loved going to school like Hina (in the book) did, one girl raised her hand and said that she enjoyed coming to school even though her parents aren't too keen about their daughter studying. Through a short session of questioning the kids about the real purpose of going to school, Samina reinforced the idea of its importance. This unexpected direction that the storytelling event took was a welcome addition.

Samina ended the storytelling session by using pictures from the book as conversation starters to learn about the kids and their homes. What followed was an engaging question and answer session that allowed the kids to learn more about Samina and her work.
You can view more pictures here.

Bookaroo in the City (Day 6) : Telugu Storytelling Event

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.

Iswarya Subbiah shares her experience of a Telugu storytelling event she attended.

A breezy November morning had the kids at Andhra School lined up for a story telling event with Telugu translataor, P Santha Devi. The children of grades 6-10 were excited to get a respite from regular classes for an exciting event such as this. The school was celebrating it's 'Library Week', and were more than happy to have amongst them Santha Devi Ma'am.

It is said that children have the purest of expressions, and anything they feel is reflected in their faces, so it was indeed a pleasure to see their faces lit up with joy. Santha Devi Ma'am read from stories from books she had translated for Pratham books. Though the session was in Telugu, it did not in any way take away from the fact that the children loved it. Their response and enthusiasm was heart warming. Their joyful faces were indeed a true reflection of the wonderful job 'Bookaroo in the City' is doing in spreading the joy of reading!

View pictures from all the other Bookaroo events here.

Event : Was Ravi Varma a Calendar Artist?

Via Mapin Publishing's Facebook Page

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Poetry with Prakriti Poetry Contest


Via Poetry with Prakriti

Once again it is poetry time at Prakriti Foundation. We take great pleasure in inviting you to ‘Poetry with Prakriti' a two-week long festival of poetry being held from the 15th to the 30th of December 2010 in Chennai to coincide with the famed Chennai season. We have planned this festival featuring 25 eminent and emerging poets, each of whom will present four different readings of their poems to a small and intimate audience of between 40 to 75 people. These readings have been planned at several venues in the city, including colleges and cafeteria, IT parks and green public parks and spaces, and select shops and commercial establishments.

We look forward to your attending as many poetry readings as possible.

As part of the festival, Prakriti Foundation invites you to participate in the Poetry Contest. Rules of the contest are:

Age Group: Contest is open to resident citizens of India aged 16 years and above

Jury: Distinguished panel of three judges

Prizes: Three cash prizes of Rs.10000/-, Rs.7500/- and Rs.5000/- each

Closing date 15th December 2010 Results will be declared on 30th December

No. of entries : One poem for each contestant
Click here for more details.

Bookaroo in the City (Day 7) : Magical Hour of Stories

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.

Manisha Chaudhry relives her experience at the event:

On 24th November, star storyteller Anupa Lal and I set off towards Haryana with the confidence born of being frequent Gurgaon travellers and 'Bookaroo in the City' veterans. We were headed towards Baas Educational Trust School in Gairatpur Baas village near Tikli. By the time we had discovered every back alley in the underbelly of gold rush Gurgaon, we grew silent until we glimpsed our first mustard field of the season!

Baas Educational Trust is a beautiful, green school in the middle of lush fields ringed by low hills. It has the most charming blue sweatered, gap toothed children who love to reply to simple questions with full sentences such as 'My name is Sanjana. I am nine years old'.

As the rainy breeze blew in from the big windows, Anupa told them funny and deep stories. As her strong voice rose and fell and her hands gestured, they all responded as one person.Their faces spoke before they did and by the end of a magical hour, they looked satiated with happiness. A film about the school was being shot on location and the session was captured on camera as well.

The long and winding road led us to a wonderful place for a BIC event and we are happy that the ripples of Bookaroo are getting wider..


View more pictures from all the Bookaroo events here.

Bookaroo in the City (Day 6) : A Special Event

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.

Bookaroo in the City (Day 5) : A Storyteller's View

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.

Cindy Jefferies writes about her event at Pathways World School:

I had a lovely visit today to Pathways School. Everyone made me feel very welcome, and the children responded with enthusiasm to my questions. They impressed me with their various ambitions, ranging from writer, which of course I approved of, through artist, pilot, and astronaut. One person even harbours the ambition to become the President of India one day. Well someone has to do the job, why not him? Full marks to the friendly and ambitious children of the Pathways School. Thank you all, teachers and pupils, for making my visit so enjoyable.

You can read more here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bookaroo in the City (Day 3) : Combating Delhi Winters with Warm Stories

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.

Sudarshana Chanda recaps the event she volunteered for recently:

One doesn't particularly mind difficult tasks if they bring joy and lessons worth learning...

I suppose that is why I didn't mind waking up to the harsh slap of the wind and the taste of a chilling winter morning for my very first event with 'Bookaroo in the City' and Pratham Books. As I walked out into the open, the biting wind seemed to shatter against my skin; I could feel my hands gradually becoming numb... And yet, I welcomed it all, for my skin tingled more with excitement and fervour than because of the morning air.

I was to accompany Anupa Lal, a well known writer and story-teller to Swami Sivanand Institute, a government school located in Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi.
The taxi wandered around for a bit, we kept looking for "Western Avenue" in "East Punjabi Bagh." A comedy of errors, to put it shortly. I didn't mind, for my conversation with Anupaji lengthened and spanned from children to nature to what constitutes the simple pleasures in life.

Its wonderful how children, just about anywhere, manage to light up their surroundings. And if you happen to be part of it, you cannot help but feel their enthusiasm and thrill. It is a feeling that bursts out of your skin and erupts in little spots of sunshine in the open. That is exactly what I thought of when I saw the children gathered and assembled in the hall at Swami Sivanand Institute. As Anupaji began telling her stories, I stood there and felt as if I was a part of the children. Like them, I was entranced by the changing frequency of her voice. When her voice hit a high pitch to convey surprise or outrage, I found that just like the children, my eyes widened in response. It was a delight to see their eyes sparkling, their heads raised, eager to devour the stories, their minds flying with dreams scattered on their little wings. When Anupaji asked them if they'd like her to go on, a state of frenzy overcame the children! Finally, she was able to leave, with promises of returning soon. I couldn't help grinning when I saw the little ones wave at her and thank her for entertaining them.

She didn't throw any morals at them and I think that is why they loved her. But there were hidden lessons for those who know how to look for them.

I'm still thinking about the magician and the Stupid King's wise Minister and the ghost who lived in a tower...

Evening with Writers from Sangam House Residency


Via an email received from Chintan Girish Modi

About the Authors:

Louise Ardenfelt Ravnild (Danish, Translation) is a Copenhagen-based translator who works mainly on translating from English to Danish. Her works include non-fiction and fiction, dealing with characters ranging from serial killers, zookeepers' wives, female popes and burnt-out baseball players to brain scientists and businesspeople.

Rajat Chaudhuri (English, Fiction) is the author of one novel, Amber Dusk, and several short stories which have appeared in Indian and international publications such as The Statesman, The Telegraph, The Times of India, Underground Voices, Notes from the Underground and Eclectica. Chaudhuri reviews fiction for Indian Literature and The Asian Review of Books. He lives in Kolkata.

Colie Hoffman (English, Poetry) is an American poet from New York's Hudson Valley. Her poems have appeared in Blood Orange Review, Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora and The Furnace Review. She is currently working on her first book.

DW Gibson (Director, Sangam House) currently serves as Executive Director of the Ledig House International Writer’s Colony in Hudson, New York. His work has appeared in several publications including The New York Observer, BOMB, Oxford Magazine, Tin House and Orion. He has written and produced several documentaries for the A&E Television Network and MSNBC, and is a founding member of Mischief + Mayhem.

Sangam House is an international writer's residency programme that brings together writers from across the world to live and work among their peers in a safe, supportive and nurturing space. For more details, see sangamhouse.org

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bookaroo in the City (Day 4) : A Festive Celebration

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.

Indira Ganesh writes about the storytelling session conducted by Vinita Krishna...

Day 4 of 'Bookaroo in the City' turned into a treat for the children of Billabong High International School. Master Story Teller Vinita Krishna was going to weave the magic of stories with the children and teachers of Billabong High International School. The children had been preparing for this event for almost a week. They had made beautiful posters, decorated the lawns with festoons and were eagerly waiting for the author to arrive. Their mentors had told them about Vinitaji's books and they were well aware of her contribution to Tamanna--the school for the differently abled. To everyone's surprise Vinitaji regaled her young audience with a folk lore in a regional language. It was one of those chain stories where a series of events happen repetitively and then the whole series is told back. Before long the children were chanting---Kaa Khaye kaa Pi, Kaa le jaye pardes. It was lovely to see everyone including the teachers and the children join the story narration enthusiastically. It was a beautiful day with the lovely sunshine, balmy breeze and the ambience created by the school adding to the overall magic. There were loud protests from the young audience when Vinitaji's session concluded. They were pacified by promises of further visits. It was a touching moment to see one of the students who is also a special child walking up to Vinitaji and inviting her to visit the Sanchetna centre for the special children within the school. The school bade Vinitaji a warm farewell and asked her to visit them every year with 'Bookaroo in the City'.

View more images from all the Bookaroo events here.



Pratham Books Reaches Bodakho Village

During Diwali, we wrote about the Diwali gifts we sent out to two organizations. One of the organizations was Aham Bhumika.

Subrat Goswami wrote to us to inform us that the organization works to provide clothes, grain, etc to a small tribal village called Bodakho in Bhopal. The village doesn't have proper access to roads and has no electricity either. The children of this village don't have any recreational facilities and Aham Bhumika has provided a few old books that they have collected from donors in Bhopal. They asked us if we would be able to provide some Hindi books for the kids of this village. Subrat also informed us that there are about 20 kids between the age group of 8-11 years who could greatly benefit from our books.
Last week Subrat wrote back to share this link which had pictures of the kids reading our books. Thank you for the pictures Subrat!








Monday, November 22, 2010

Bookaroo in the City (Day 4) : Introduction to the World of Graphic Novels

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.

Jamie Mullick writes about the event conducted by Campfire Books...

On the morning of the 19th of November, the children of Maxfort School, Rohini were in for an early morning treat. Amidst the rehearsals for their annual day, they were greeted by a team from Bookaroo in the City from Pratham Books accompanied by Munendra Patankar and his team from Campfire Graphic Novels.

The students were assembled in the open stage to enjoy the warmth offered by the Friday morning sun. The activity planned for the day was for nearly 100 middle school children where the younger ones got to learn to sketch from, Mr. Lalit, a professional artist at Campfire. And the older children learnt the basics of writing in such novels from the writers. The result was an hour long charged up session which saw enthusiastic participation from the kids.

The students from 4th, 5th and 6th grade were given the theme ‘Race for Space’ to throw their imaginations at, while the students from 7th grade were provided with illustrated pages with blank speech bubbles to fill up and construct their own stories from.

The Principal of the school Mr. Sanjeev Jolly was present throughout the event and was extremely pleased with the activity. In his closing address, he was full of warm praises for the teams from Pratham Books and Campfire Graphic Novels for the BIC event. He also pledged further support from Maxfort School for any such endeavours in the future while urging the students to attend the book exhibition at IGNCA with their family and friends.

On days like these, it makes it makes all the efforts put for Bookaroo in the city worthwhile for us when we see such eager support in the events from the students and the school authorities. Even the Campfire team was pleasantly surprised when they saw their artists thronged by the children for tips on sketching. We look forward to meeting our new little friends from Maxfort School at the exhibitions.

View more pictures from all the 'Bookaroo in the City' events here.

Leaping Windows : Library for those who love comics and graphic novels

Via Leaping Windows (via Chintan Girish Modi)

Why
Leaping Windows was born of countless hours spent poring over manga on the internet and hovering in the aisles of bookstores reading graphic novels we couldn’t afford to buy. We wanted the satisfaction of holding something tangible. We wanted to read whenever we wanted to – while commuting to work, before going to bed, even sitting on the pot if we so desired!

Accessibility and price seemed to be the biggest problems. Not much manga is available in India. Graphic novels are expensive enough to cause a big dent in your pocket if you want to be a frequent buyer. We wanted to try our hand at solving both these problems as best as we could.

What
At first we envisioned a physical space – bookshelves from floor to ceiling crammed with all the books that we could buy, creaking under their weight. Beanbags. Coffee. Regular customers crowding around and discussing comics on lazy afternoons. But on a shoestring budget, we soon realized that the only space we could afford was on the internet. And so, as we came down to earth, Leaping Windows leapt.

Leaping Windows is a work in progress. We will be adding more books to the collection as the months go by and hope to expand our community to do as much as possible. There are many new directions we want to take, half of which may turn out to be nothing but pipe dreams. In fact, it’s entirely possible that we end up caffeine addicts, neck deep in debt, despairing over our lack of foresight, but at least we’ll get to read a library-load of comics on the way!

Friday, November 19, 2010

ABC poster

Another lovely poster :)

Via marlasea (via Kickcan & Conkers)

Bookaroo in the City (Day 3) : Celebrating National Book Week

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.

Manisha Chaudhry says...

On 18th November, a 'Bookaroo in the City' event was held in collaboration with National Book Trust as part of their National Book Week celebrations.

Prakash Manu, well known author and recently retired editor of the popular Hindi magazine "Nandan" had an audience of over 300 children fully involved in his stories. There were children from Pratham Learning Centres, Bluebells School, Kendriya Vidyalaya, The Tamil School and they listened to Prakash ji with rapt attention. Prakash ji told the stories with such grandfatherly affection that the children felt free to ask him many questions. One child even asked him how he managed to change the expression on his face as he talked of different characters and he said it was because he goes deep into his stories...It was treat to see his passion for books and his love for the children.

View more images from all the 'Bookaroo in the City' events here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bookaroo in the City (Day 2) : The Gift of Stories

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.

Indira Ganesh shares her experience at a school run by the Delhi Common Wealth Women’s Association in Zamrudpur.

Bookaroo in the city 2010 is reaching the most inaccessible learners. On day 2 of BIC 2010, it made its way to a school of just 65 children between three to four years who have their classes in a partitioned room of a medical centre. It was a school run by the Delhi Common Wealth Women’s Association in Zamrudpur and the group of children who had assembled there were waiting for the big event—Story Telling. The Story teller was Valentina Trivedi who is passionate about story telling and who conducts theatre workshops for children. Valentina is a gifted story teller who can modulate her voice to become a growly bear or a whining wolf. Infact, her adroitness in making various noises kept the children riveted to her story telling. Children squealed with laughter through out the session. Valentina chose two books from Pratham Books (Samira's Awful Lunch and Yakity Yak) to tell her stories. The beautiful illustrations were a great add on to her wonderful narration. She told the story of a girl who does not like the food in her lunch box but after meeting the ant, the butterfly, the crow and the others, she has a change of heart and heartily eats her food. The second story was of Yakity Yak who was a talkative juvenile yak who gets separated from his parents and is reunited with them after his friends like the cloud and the sun join forces to help him. The young children amazed everyone with their confident replies and regaled us with their rambunctious laughter. It was a wonderful session with a wonderful story teller.

Click here to view more pictures from all the 'Bookaroo in the City' events.


Bookaroo in the City (Day 1) : A Roaring Start

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 16th November, as part of the "Bookaroo in the City" program, Pratham Books was spreading the joy of reading in four schools. Well, it was supposed to be just three schools, but the fourth one happened by accident and a happy accident it was! Manisha Chaudhry shares her experience at Rishav Public School.

On a foggy November morning I set out at 7am all excited about it being the first of the 'Bookaroo in the City' events. All the weeks of emailing schools, authors, making schedules, re-confirmatory phone calls, meeting taxi owners and briefing volunteers was coming together at last. I was nervous but pretending to be oh-so-cool-it's-all-in-day's-work-for-me. As I sped towards Paro's farm, a policeman flagged us down and asked to see the taxi's papers. He found something missing and there I was with my cool demeanour in tatters as I began to see disappointed children, traffic jams and my clumsy efforts to put up our grand 'Bookaroo in the City' standee fading away!

But God is kind and taxi drivers are wise and soon Paro and I were whizzing across the Nizamuddin bridge over skeins of pale mist over the Yamuna.

We arrived at a sweet little school next to a mithai pink and pista green Siddhivinayak temple where the plaster of paris cows gazed benignly over grey-sweatered children.

My fears about the standee misbehaving with me were misplaced as two senior students and I had it up in record time! After a quick cup of coffee with the welcoming teachers, we made our way to the cavernous Activity Room of the school in the basement.

Paro soon set it alight with her sheer presence as she launched into a spirited Bhabhloo Bear's Adventure! The first giggles come from Paro's snoring mother bear act as Bhabhloo's head spins with questions. The room lights up a little more.

Out comes a silvered moon from Paro's pitara as Bhabhloo sets off to climb the deodar tree which will enable him to jump to the moon.

One ornamental palm in a pot becomes the deodar as Bhabhloo climbs higher and higher and then as the branches go kadak-kadak and then kidik-kidik... he falls to his doom with a Mummy...y...y...y-....DHUP! You can hear a pin drop in the room.

But then we all know that the story does not end on this sad note. Life stirs again and Bhabhloo becomes the handsome bear with a silvery white V on his chest- quite the Rohit Bal of the bear world, and Paro got a very big round of applause.

She immediately launched into an interactive version of the lion and rabbit which got a thorough revision on the spot! The lion sinking in the well caused much merriment as Paro borrowed my dupatta and gave a running commentary in rhyme.

(I take frantic calls from the other event venue where Swagata ends up doing an unscheduled story telling at the Basti School adjoining the Savera school where the scheduled story session happens thereafter. Two events for the price of one! Lucky children and thank you Swagata! Read about that event here.)

Since it is not good to kill lions any more, even in a story, he is rescued with the help of a tree lowered in the well with beavers, wood peckers and elephants - all getting walk on parts. As the children discuss the qualities of the next king of the jungle, Paro has effortlessly taught us all that Stories Never End. There is always the seed of a new story just waiting...

Did you know that, in Malay, they call milk susu? Well, I learnt this giggle-worthy fact along with 150 bouncing children at Rishav Public School this morning. Paro had the room in splits as she seriously embroidered this fact with how she and her sister had to buy susu which cost money and could be flavoured...even the senior students on duty looked amused!

This well and truly broke the ice as the session came to a thunderingly successful end and Paro was mobbed like she was Salman Khan. Some glory rubbed off on me as I was also asked to autograph many many bits of paper. I was also asked by many students where they could get Bhabhloo Bhaloo and where and how they could send me stories...

What a lovely way to get Bookaroo in the City started...Paro looked tired but happy...the children looked all lit up and lingered in the Activity Room, loth to go back to their class rooms...I think we started something which should go all the way to Books.

Click here to view more images from all the 'Bookaroo in the City' events.

Bookaroo in the City (Day 1) - Storytelling in Gujarati

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 16th November, as part of the "Bookaroo in the City" program, Pratham Books was spreading the joy of reading in four schools. Well, it was supposed to be just three schools, but the fourth one happened by accident and a happy accident it was! Indira Ganesh shares her experience at the Gujarati Samaj Senior Secondary School.

It was a balmy morning when some 300 enthusiastic nine and ten year olds gathered in the auditorium of their school at the Gujarati Samaj Senior Secondary School in Civil lines, Delhi. There was a perceptible anticipation in the air. They had been told by their teachers that today, there would be a story telling session in Gujarati for them. This story telling session was part of the event 'Bookaroo In the City' which is being conducted by Pratham Books in over 25 schools all over the NCR. This particular session was special on two accounts. First and foremost it was being done by none other than Shanta T. Patel who is a name to reckon with in the field of Gujarati translation of popular children's books. Shantaji is a Septuagenarian who has dedicated her life to the field of education. She brought the warmth of a grandmother spinning a tale in the mother tongue for the eager grandchildren. The session was also special as it was being conducted in Gujarati, a compulsory language for every child in the primary classes in the Gujarati Samaj school. The children were familiar with Pratham Books as their school library has a lot of books published by them and the books were quite popular among the children. The children were curious to find out as to which stories would be chosen by the story teller. Shanta Ben chose two books to read from. One was- Mithani Chatpati Varta- 'A Pinch of Salt' and the second one was 'Varta nu Shahar- City of Stories'. Before anyone knew it, one hour was over and Shanta Ben summarized the stories in Hindi for the non Gujarati students. The teachers and students felicitated Shanta Ben and gave her a warm farewell. Good stories are rare and good story tellers are rarer. The story telling session in Gujarati during 'Bookaroo in the City' held its ground in this age of technology aided stimulation for the young minds.

Indira Ganesh and Himashu Giri share pictures from this event (View more pictures here):


Bookaroo in the City (Day 1) : Happy Accidents

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 16th November, as part of the "Bookaroo in the City" program, Pratham Books was spreading the joy of reading in four schools. Well, it was supposed to be just three schools, but the fourth one happened by accident and a happy accident it was! My colleague Rajesh Khar shares his experiences at two of the events...

Session - 1:
Well this session was supposed to be at the Savera School, however, we (Swagata Sen Pillai and I) reached an adjacent school run by the Rotary Club (Basti School, Srinivaspuri - this is housed in the same set of flats along with Savera) similar in nature to the Savera and then as Swagata had started conversing with the children, we conducted a session there as well! A group of 45 young children very earnestly listened to her stories - Cheenu's Gift and Phani's Funny Chappal (Hindi versions). So, before Jo could discover what was happening (I mean Jo Williams, who had reached Savera by then and had frantically called our team to find out about Swagata's whereabouts), this session was on and then Jo gave us time to finish up the session before Swagata could go for the actual Savera School session.

Session - 2: Savera School, Srinivaspuri, New Delhi
Here Swagata read out 2 stories to the children - Cheenu's Gift and Phani's Funny Chappals, both in Hindi. The children enjoyed the stories a lot. She had carried A3 size colour printouts of funny illustrations of slippers, drawn by Rajiv Banjara of Pratham, with her. She also had about 5 copies of the Phani's Funny Chappals. Children responded to her in their cute little way and some even tried to tell Swagata their own little stories! About 50 children participated in this story-telling session. All the teachers stood and helped Swagata hold the book for children as it was a little cramped area.

Swagata Sen Pillai shares some of the photos taken at the events :






You can view all the images from this event and Bookaroo 2010 here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bookaroo in the City

Bookaroo in the City (BIC) is the event that launches the Bookaroo festival in Delhi by bringing the joy of books to children across a spectrum of schools.

The schools range from NGO-run schools in 'bastis' to MCD schools, from B-category schools to the schools that have every facility available to school children. What is common is the thread of our love for books that binds us to all children. The wonder and delight on the faces of the children when they listen to an author, leaf through the book at the end of the session and ask, "where do you get these ideas from?" is the same regardless of the school. The Bookaroo Trust was set up to bring the children and books together and the BIC is the prime mover of that social objective. The Festival draws parents and children who, more often than not, already enjoy books. The BIC helps in widening the network of joy by sometimes taking books to children who might not be able to come to the Festival and in other cases, spreading awareness that such a Festival is taking place and more children are encouraged to come.

The BIC also creates a climate where books become a source of joy in a school environment and this helps in taking the 'green vegetables' tag from them and making them more akin to 'ice cream'!

Bookaroo in the City is organised by Pratham Books. Both Bookaroo and Pratham Books are working to bring books into the life of every child. Pratham Books' initiative of Bookaroo in the City also ensures that books in Indian languages get the attention they deserve and children enjoy stories and books in Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu an other languages.

Click on the image below to view the schedule for 'Bookaroo in the City' or click here to see more.. You can also view the schedule of 'Aviva Bookaroo : Festival of Children's Festival' (which will be held on 26th, 27th and 28th November 2010).