Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book Lovers’ Program for Schools

Tharini Viswanath, one of our interns from last year, wrote to us to tell us about an interesting organization she is working with. 

When I met Naresh for coffee last Monday, I admit I didn’t think I was going to say “Yes!” so quickly. But here I am – a BLPS employee at the end of her first work week! I admit his haul from the Landmark sale had caught my attention, but as Naresh explained the concept behind the Book Lovers’ Program for Schools (BLPS), I was convinced that this was something I’d want to work on, something that would make a lasting impression not just on me, but on students and teachers alike.

BLPS or the Book Lovers’ Program for Schools is a startup based out of IIT Madras which works with schools, in an attempt to get the kids of today to read via theatre based activities, story- telling sessions, arts and crafts, etc. According to our recent findings, children of today have access to books, but they don’t read. This is because they have a lot of other things to do – watch TV, play video games, go out with friends, go for coaching classes (be it music, dance, art, sport) – you name it, they’re probably doing it! Many of these activities are aggressively advertised, tempting both children and parents. Surprisingly, not many people are even mildly persuasive when it comes to getting their children to read books. As a result, the child’s creative potential takes a direct hit. The more children compete to get higher grades, the less likely they are to think out of the box and come up with something original.

At BLPS, we give creativity first priority. Children are told that there is no right or wrong way of doing things. They are also encouraged to think differently, to express themselves without fear of criticism or ridicule. They are free of judgment. This becomes a very liberating experience and in the schools we worked with, we found that kids who are usually quiet and reserved volunteer to speak out or take part in the activities. There is a true sense of equality that prevails in these classes where inputs are taken from both the “weak” and the “good” student in creating something as a group activity. Most importantly, we stress on the need to read books, both fiction and non-fiction. The children are asked to explore the world within these books where a lot of ‘silent learning’ takes place.

I am proud to say that BLPS has effected a positive change in 8 out of 10 children by making them book lovers. But we still need all the help and support we can get to make this work.

Here is a little more information about us:

What is BLPS?
BLPS (Book Lovers’ Program for Schools) is a startup based out of IIT Madras, Chennai. At BLPS, we try to promote better Communication, Comprehension, and Creative Thinking among kids through books and reading, through story telling sessions, games and activities during the library period in schools.

And what have you achieved so far?
Our statistics say that we have managed to increase book borrowings from 12-15% (typical in any school library) to 80% in the last academic year. That means nearly 25 kids in a class of 30 read every day. And the amazing thing is that these children perform well in other subjects like Math & Science too.

Hmmm... So what’s next?
We at BLPS believe that we have developed something of immense potential. We are planning to scale up operations from 2 schools in Tamil Nadu to at least 200 schools all over India.

What exactly do you do at the BLPS?

- We make lesson plans for classes 1 – 8.
  • based on popular books and children's literature (books by Roald Dahl, Dr.Seuss,Malgudi Days, Jungle Book, Harry Potter, etc)
  • with interesting activities based on these books (storytelling, mime, designing a book cover, debates, discussions, writing exercises etc)
- We also equip English teachers in schools to handle these classes themselves.

- We work closely with all existing curriculums - Matriculation, CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE, etc in
developing modules suited for the school environment.

In short, BLPS = Lesson plans + teacher training

Click here for more information.  You can also contact Naresh at nareshram121(at)gmail(dot)com to learn more about the Book Lovers' Program for Schools.

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