Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pratham Books Champion : Abhinav Agarwal

As part of Litworld's World Read Aloud Daycelebrations, we decided to ask our community if they would conduct storytelling sessions in their cities. 50 awesome champions decided to take part and 'celebrate the power of words'. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

Today's story comes from Abhinav Agarwal who conducted a storytelling session in Bangalore. Abhinav is a software engineer by profession and works atOracle India. He is a post-graduate from IIM Bangalore. Bangalore has been his home for close to 10 years now. When not reading stories to his children, he reads books, takes photos, and puts them all on his blog at His other likes are Hindi music and retro Hindi movies.

The book Abhinav received was 'Laxman's Questions. Abhinav writes about his storytelling experience on his blog ...

A small and cute book about a young boy's questions.
Laxman has questions. For birds and trees. About animals and nature. He wonders. And he learns that questions are as important as answers. His grandmother is always encouraging, while his mother is secretly proud of her son's inquisitiveness.

As part of Pratham Book's initiative to have volunteers conduct reading sessions, I contacted Maya and offered to conduct a reading, or two. She agreed, and a few days later I had the book in my hands. A few days later I was able to conduct a reading at, an amazing school for pre-schoolers, run by Ravi and Viji.

There were about twenty toddlers in the room - Magic Puddles follows somewhat of a Montessori model, where children different ages are mixed together to provide for a more enrichening learning experience.

Having children between two-and-a-half and four-five years of age meant reading out the story page-by-page would be a challenge.

What I instead decided to follow was to not read out the story, but rather use the rich, full-page and double-paged color spreads to tell the story.

Holding up the book, spread open, and then asking the children to guess what was happening turned out to be a winning strategy, and injecting humour in-between kept the kids' attention.

There was one child who had read the story earlier - rather, her father had read the story out to her, and she was super-super-excited to participate in the story telling session! I can imagine the excitement she would have felt - I was taken back more than thirty years back to my own childhood - as best as I can remember it now :-)

One thing that I realized was that the kids were too young to quite understand the importance of speaking to plants and animals, in a metaphorical sense. They understood the importance of asking questions. And were very willing to demonstrate it in practice too! 

I shot this too soon... the little fella had not yet finished putting the book up.

And now he has. And now seeing the photos again, I sure hope the little angel in the brown t-shirt got his turn, because in the photo below, he is looking very hopefully, but still without the book in his hands.

And did I tell you the book is priced at Rs 30!! I think all of Pratham Books' books are priced at below Rs 50 - that is simply amazing!


Thank you Abhinav 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)or

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