Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bookaroo in the City (Day 5) : Devika Rangachari

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 several schools in Delhi.

Volunteer Divya writes about the session conducted by Devika Rangachari (via Bookaroo blog) ...

‘Writing stories? No, thanks, not for me. How will I do it if I want to be a scientist or a doctor or a footballer? Is it really a serious career option, I don’t even know what to write about in the first place?’ These were the questions that most class VIII students were asking when Devika Rangachari started her interaction session at Kendria Vidyalaya School, Sector 24, Noida. But things were to change soon enough! 

Devika, a historian and a writer, has established herself as a children’s book author whose stories, ranging from picture books to biographies, draw from her personal life experiences as well as her from her work. For example, her book ‘When Amma Went Away’, although categorized as fiction, is largely about her own life as a South-Indian child growing up in North-India. Whereas another book by her, ‘The Wit of Tenali Raman’, comprises captivating historical stories which most people had never heard of before.

“Writing is great, and never a hurdle in your career. You can fit it into your free time and create stories while pursuing a career in any field,” she said to the kids. Encouraging them, she told them how by writing the picture book ‘Whitey and the Monsters’ she could better deal with her fear of darkness. “I also used to be afraid of Maths and Science when I was at school but no-one told me writing a funny story about these subjects will make me less scared,” she said. “Now I suggest you too write about whatever worries you – you’ll see it helps a lot!”

Chilled out and down-to-earth despite 20 national awards (!) in her bag, Devika also spoke about how she didn’t know that she wanted to be a writer until she finished school. “I was always asked by my teachers to participate in essay competitions, write for the school magazine, and what not. But I realized that I could write much later. Everyone used to ask me what I wanted to become when I grow up and I wouldn’t know. I just didn’t think I could to be an author even after I finished school. … So don’t worry if the same happens to you. Just keep writing what you like – you don’t even have to show it to anyone if you don’t want to – and one day you will know that you are an author.”

The enthusiastic, and impressively responsive, children of KV school asked a number of questions as Devika gave them some brilliant advice on ‘Qualities of a good writer’, ‘Importance of reading in a writer’s life’, ‘Picking up the right book to read’, ‘The importance of blurbs’, ‘Plagiarism’ and much more. By the end of the one-hour session, the ‘No-way!’ statements had encouragingly turned into the positive ‘Where can I start?’ questions. As soon as the session was over, a happy, wide-eyed boy ran up to Devika. “Thanks. I feel so much more confident by listening to you. I think I can start writing now,” he said grinning and grabbed a Bookaroo Festival 2011 flier from the table.

It’s amazing to see how just a one-hour session with an author could inspire children to write. They all may not become authors later on in their lives, but at least they would discover ‘writing’ and so, their voice. Most of all, they would discover the wonderful world of books. Do you agree?

You can read about all the Bookaroo in the City sessions here. You can also view more pictures here.

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