Tuesday, May 21, 2013

You Read, They Learn : Vasundhara Bahuguna

On 1st May, Hindustan Times invited us to be part of their 'You Read, They Learn' campaign. Thousand of copies of our books got printed and were circulated in the Delhi, Gurgaon and NCR region. The stories could be read out to children who cannot read, are learning to read or given to children who cannot afford books.

Vasundhara Bahuguna sent us her story of how she gave wings to several 'newspaper books'. Vasundhara is a self-confessed eternal optimist. A writer, creative, she is a lover of art, literature, music, and nature. She scribbles her thoughts on her blog: http://www.vasundharabahuguna.blogspot.com and adores the company of children and books.

In her first post on her blog, she writes ...

On a sleepy afternoon, I was running through my Twitter timeline, when I caught sight of something very interesting. A book-in-every-hand initiative by Pratham Books.

As someone who feels fortunate to be introduced to books as a child-and who always saw her parents and most in the family reading, it came to me, almost like second nature- this initaitive had me hooked.

I have taught children from several strata of our society; children who have not had it fair, and so on. So books and children, two creations of the Maker, very dear to me...and "what can I do", it had me thinking.

And as they say, it is not the magnitude, but the very act of having done the deed that matters the most. Each one of us can make a difference, in our own small ways.

So here I was, with four books (cut out from today's edition of Hindustan Times) ...here is what they looked like- after i added a cover to each.

While I have three books with me, here is what the first one (Book 1- for ease of ref.) achieved. 
Planning to share what becomes of the other three books. If you have that copy of HT lying somewhere in your house, may be you too want to do something about it.

Book1: Given to my maid. Narrated the story to her. In her late teens, she is a class 4 drop out.


Her reaction: Smiling all through. Responsive to colour names. She speaks Bengali...so we were talking about different names for colours.. example: brown or bhoora (in Hindi) or maatiya (mitti ka rang) //translation: colour of mud-the Earth// ...when it ended she said, "acha hai, bahut acha hai". //translation: nice, very nice//
Big smile flashing upon her face. eyes gleaming.
And said, "ye tou bilkul kitab lag rahi hai" //translation: this looks exactly like a book//. She did ask me why was I getting four copies of the same paper...and said "oh tou aapne isliye liya tha". //translation: oh, so this is why you bought it//

Spreading the joy: She will hand them over to her bua's (father's sister) children. this, after she narates it to the children in her locality--- her cousins go to school and she says she will in turn get them to narrate it to other children in their school, and with whom they play in the park!

I so do Hope, this happens...she said it like she means it.

... of Life's simple joys...


**********

In her second post, Vasundhara tells us about what happened to the second and third book :

I am extremely happy to share with you what became of the other 2 books: Book2 and Book 3.

10 rolls of chart paper under my arm, boxes of coloured crayons in my bag, and thoughts in my head, I walked today morning, my way to the local Govt. School- Higher Secondary; the class that would receive me with exuberance that defies all definition, class 7 (a & b). Read 80 children, noisy, mischievous, brimming with zest and willing to spare none with their fast ones!

The first thing that such spirited children do is, surround you, the minute you step into their class; and this lot followed the norm. Imagine 80.Now imagine 80, talkative, vociferous children.

Out came Book 2 and 3, 4, and the story telling session started. While I held 2 in my hand, they held 3 and 4.

As this was a “big” class- in more ways than one, they read it aloud too, and translated for their classmates- Hindi to English.

I told them, we are doing this for a bigger purpose. So after the story telling, they create their own stories. In groups of 8, they draw and write. They narrate theirs to the entire class.

What becomes of their work? They put up an exhibition (on May 18-11th being a holiday for them). Other classes, and their teachers see their work of art- and hear them narrate their stories.

It does not stop there, I told them. So they will tell it to their youngsters and siblings. Finally these stories make it to their school library.

And then they began- to draw, to think, to write…innocent squabbles over colours, stories, team mates…
We are all like these children, always trying to be heard; hoping we find like-minded people for many such collective works.

A glimpse of the topics (they christened their stories): “friendship”, “the greedy dog”, “the thirsty crow”, “rain”, “the lion and the mouse”, “to cheat is bad”---to name a few. Each story had a moral that they read aloud. And their narration, breathtaking...and soul stirring.

Take a look at their work here



They made their storybooks ,Pratham Books style. 

Oh one should have seen and heard them draw, create and tell their stories;
And thus, Book 2 and 3 were put to good use. They have found their way to this school’s primary section library and that of another. 

Also, they have served as idea givers for such activities in the respective primary sections.

Book 4 lies with me. What will become of it, will share with you.

The big picture: Once this kicks in, the idea is to visit this school once a month, or via other volunteers, get them to create books for exhibition and /or their library for the primary section. So, they are teaching---and helping their youngsters.

A word on children: They will always mean it when they walk up to you before you be in to leave for the day, and say, “we had great fun, and you will come again, will you not?”

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