Monday, 10 September 2012

Pratham Books’ storytelling initiative

I think anybody who is reading this has had a blessed childhood. Our formative years were full of fairytales and stories read by master storytellers (read grandparents, parents and teachers). While we all know about Cinderella’s glass shoe, Rapunzel’s long tresses or Panchatantra - the animal fables, there are many children of a lesser God who can’t even envision a castle or a glass shoe. There is an urgent need to give wings of imagination to these disadvantaged kids and Pratham Books, a non-profit trust that publishes high quality books for children at affordable prices, decided to do just that.

Shivani, the youngest dreamer

I was ecstatic when I got an opportunity to conduct a storytelling workshop held by Pratham Books to celebrate the International literacy Day across the country. I was one of the champions representing my state. The workshop was held at Amba Foundation, a non-profit society working in the fields of education, health and community development, with a special focus on underprivileged women and children.

The happy bunch after the session

As I entered Amba Foundation, some 35 kids in the age group of 3 to 9 welcomed with a warm "goodmorning M'am" note. The well-behaved children impressed me with their eagerness to listen to the story and active participation in the question-answer round thereafter. The story titled “Susheela’s Kolams” was read across the country and my session was no different. The props used at the session quickly changed hands and evoked interest among my little alert listeners. Simple words like ‘terrace’, ‘floor’, ‘walls’, ‘sky’ etc., which we may find way too simple, were translated for their vocabulary expansion.

Children getting the feel of colourful illustrations

The kids at Amba Foundation demonstrate that if the educational foundation of a child is made strong at their tender years, then every child has the potential to use it to his/her advantage.  Whether it’s their neatly-parted hair, impeccable que-arrangement for morning prayers or controlled emotions during the interactive session, they all exhibited a great sense of discipline. Pratham Books' initiative ensured that children of all sections of the society had a beautiful and colourful International literacy Day, just like Susheela’s Kolams!

Now, that's a whole new world out there!

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