Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pratham Books Champion : Shilpa Krishnan

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 Shilpa Krishnan who conducted a storytelling session in Chennai. Shilpa Krishnan is a 25-year-old journalist based out of Chennai. She enjoys travelling and believes that it is an exercise best done alone. She also loves children and writing too. She blogs at www.lookwhosback.blogspot.com

Why did you volunteer to be a Pratham Books Champion?

I have always wanted to become a storyteller. Probably that is why I decided to get into writing. But while I was comfortable with the written word, the spoken word wouldn’t come so easy to me. I had stage fright as a child and I never quite overcame it. Until I realized that the only reason for that was because I feared ridicule. With children, it is different. They lap up every word you tell them. They don’t make fun of your accent. They don’t laugh if you mispronounce a word. So I decided to conduct a storytelling session at the school I volunteered at. Serendipitously, Pratham Books decided to conduct this programme. It was destiny.
Shilpa wrote to us about her storytelling session...

Dear Pratham Books,

Thank you so much for making the Pratham Books Champion programme possible.

I love kids. I love stories. And I realised, after this workshop, that I love telling stories to kids.

Below is the story of my experience as a Pratham Book Champion:
  • I saw the update on FB and immediately emailed Pratham. Their response was quick and in two days, it was all set – the books and banner had arrived and I was given a quick lesson on what I was to do.
  • I was already volunteering at a government residential school for tribal children near my office. So that was where I decided to conduct the storytelling workshop.

  • I called up a couple of friends and asked them to help me out. Saranya Chakrapani, a former colleague and good friend and Apoorva Prasad, a former classmate and again, good friend, came along.
  • We reached the school around 2.20 in the afternoon. We decided to conduct the session under the tree in the backyard. Very gurukul-ish.
  • After the initial ruckus and altercations over who gets to sit where, the kids settled down. We explained to them the importance of the International Girl Child Day. Within two minutes, all the boys were wishing their girl friends “Happy Girl Day”. Some boys even wished each other. :)
  • We then began the session. While Apoorva and I took turns in a dramatised reading out of the stories, Saranya did the translation into Tamil.

  • They listened. They laughed at times. They acted out bits. They asked questions. They asked to see the pictures. And most importantly, they learnt.
  • By the end of the one-hour-forty-minutes session, I had learnt as much as they had. I had learnt the importance of innocence. The power of words. And the beauty of everyday life.

    The last part was the best. When we finally packed our bags and started out. The kids, 40-odd of them, rushed to us, surrounding us and wishing us “Happy Girl Day”. While there are times I curse my luck for having been born a girl, moments like these make me realize how special it is to be one.
Thank you Pratham Books.

Thank you Shilpa 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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