Back in 2013, Aarti Srinivasan first volunteered to be a Pratham Books champion. She took Paplu to meet the kids at BJ Home in Mumbai and when she wrote back to us about her experience, she stated - "I bid them farewell after an hour's session but promising to be back to them with more stories and more lessons."
And did she return? Yes, she did. A year later, she was urging more people to join the PBChamps movement and also called storytelling an addictive experience.
The first time I entered BJ home( an NGO in Mumbai) on International Literacy Day last year and saw some hundred odd kids waiting to listen to a story I was going to narrate, I was both thrilled and anxious. But the moment I opened the book( Paplu, the Giant) I didn't have much to worry about. Little Paplu took over and he was enthralling the kids with all the fascinating things he did. I walked into the place as someone who was just 'giving it a shot' at storytelling but walked out quite amazed with myself. The experience made me realize that there's a storyteller hidden in each one of us. All one needs is an engaging story and a group of kids the story can engage with. Because, quite honestly, we're just the medium to bring the two together. Nothing more than that.Fast forward to 2016 and we receive a warm email from Aarti asking for book suggestions. She also spills the beans that she has now started her very own library!
This got me thinking how fantastic it would be if each of us could take some time out and spend an hour or so in the company of children and books. That would mean so many beautiful stories enjoyed by so many more children. Wouldn't that be great? Well, at the risk of sounding sermonizing, I would like to urge many more of you to become #PBChamps and be part of the fantastic 'Tentastic' initiative. Rest assured, you’ll get a lot more than you will give.
You will be really happy to know that the calendar will be finding its home in a library that I am soon going to start. A few km away from Mumbai, in Virar, I plan to start a free library/ story room and what's cool is that a lot of books are by Pratham Books (the ones i have been collecting for the past few years).
A lot of children are from the vernacular medium and I was looking at buying more Hindi and Marathi books.
Aarti went on to say ...
I was always in love with books, children and children's books, but being a PB champ a few years back for the first time definitely kickstarted this whole love affair. That's when i realised how much I enjoy being a storyteller and after my first PBchamp narration of "Paplu", I've not stopped discovering and collecting more and more books- the maximum books still being from Pratham Books. I was also inspired by the work of the other individuals/ organisations that I came across in your blog/ the Donate-a-Book campaign. That's why I thought of writing to you about your Library set for my first library/ story room. :).
Aarti, we cannot wait to hear about all the stories your library is going to witness! Here's to many more magical journeys ahead.