Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pratham Books Champion : Sangeetha Kodithala

24th September was a very special day for all of us at Pratham Books. We managed to create a book in 4 languages in 2 days. But, we also had many friends from within our community volunteer to become a 'Pratham Books Champion' and conduct storytelling sessions in their neighbourhoods. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

Today's story comes from Sangeetha Kodithala who conducted a storytelling session in Hyderabad. Sangeetha is an MBA by training and a Change Management Consultant by profession. She currently works with an MNC in Hyderabad and takes an active interest in reading and blogging.

Why did you volunteer to be a Pratham Books Champion?

I have been quite passionate about education to all children. I believe a good education makes them responsible citizens and will help them fend for themselves without feeling exploited or underprivileged. I have been working with a few orphanages - mainly helping them get funds for children's food and education. When Pratham book came up with this request, I couldn't say no as this is exactly what I believe in. Also, the occasion was Girl Child Day, which made it all the more important to me. I keep writing/talking about various women's issues and spread awareness through whatever means I have. So, this was a perfect platform in both ways.

Sangeetha shared her storytelling experience on her blog (Sangeetha was unable to narrate 'The Upside Down Story' as the story had not been translated into Telugu, but see what our wonderful storyteller did anyway)...

I've never done it before, but since it sounded like fun and it was on the occasion of International Girl Child Day, I took it up. Pratham Books sent me these lovely stories and a beautiful flexi banner to put up for the kids, which made it all the more interesting. And I had my husband, sister and my friend Indumouly to help me put up the banner and engage the kids.

I am associated with an orphanage close to my place, which is run by a guy who quit a plum job with one of the star hotels in Hyderabad because he felt he should do something for the needy. It has about 30+ kids in the age groups of 1-13. All are sent to municipal schools nearby, and some who get funding through considerate donors are sent to a local private school. I've been visiting the kids for 5 months now, and all of them are quite active and well-read.

When I walked in and told them I'm here to tell you some stories, they were quite excited. I showed them the books with colourful pictures and told them they could keep it and they were all the more eager. I showed them the stories and asked them which would they like to hear from me. Most of them liked the story of the newborn elephant Ambili, and the guy who had the annual haircut day. Only a few asked me to tell the stories in English, and the rest wanted in Telugu. So, I narrated Ambili's story in Telugu, and then read out and showed the illustrations of The Annual Haircut Day story. They all laughed out loud after listening to the annual haircut day story. And they were quite fascinated with Ambili's story, because they could relate to Ambili's curiosity and wish to learn things. When I said 'Ambili was quite scared as a 4-day old because she didn't know anything. She's too small to know anything, right?', they all nodded and said 'Yes, she's too small.'

The kids wanted more after the 2 stories, so I read out the TING-TONG book, which was about various sounds made by different things like temple bell, calling bell etc. I also felt some of the kids might be interested in reading out a story, so picked the Telugu story of the bird who learnt to fly and called 2 kids to read out. I was quite surprised by their flawless reading with proper intonations. Kids never fail to amuse us, do they?!

And the best part was reserved for the end. I asked Vaishnavi, who is in 6th class to come and narrate a story. She narrated the story of 4 friends and a lion. All of them listened to it intently and when I asked what did they learn from it, some of them shouted back - 'You should always listen to your friends' :-)

Good fun session with a bunch of energetic and enthusiastic kids. Love Pratham Books for the kind of work they're doing, which is what I'm passionate about too. Look forward to more such sessions in future!

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Thank you Sangeetha for spreading the joy of reading!

Click here to read the stories sent in by all the Pratham Books Champions.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

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