VOL­UN­TEER TO TELL A STORY

Over 1,000 book read­ing ses­sions were con­ducted for school chil­dren last month to cel­e­brate World Lit­er­acy Day.

India Today - - BREAKING NEWS - By Son­ali Achar­jee

What started as a small step by Pratham Books to spread the joy of read­ing has quickly grown to be­come a move­ment. Last year Pratham Books ini­ti­ated the One Day- One Story ini­tia­tive to cel­e­brate World Lit­er­acy Day and con­ducted over 250 sto­ry­telling ses­sions. This year the or­gan­i­sa­tion de­cided to aim a higher and or­gan­ised over 1,000 story telling ses­sions across 27 In­dian states and in 21 dif­fer­ent lan­guages.

The ini­tia­tive was a part of the Pratham Books' Cham­pi­ons pro­gramme where the or­gan­is­ers en­cour­aged their com­mu­nity of vol­un­teers to con­duct read­ing ses­sions. Th­ese ses­sions were all con­ducted free of cost and mostly with chil­dren from eco­nom­i­cally weak com­mu­ni­ties.

The book cho­sen to be read this year was Paplu, the Gi­ant, writ­ten by Ramendra Ku­mar and il­lus­trated by Zainab Tam­bawalla. The book was read in English, Hindi, Marathi, Tel­ugu and Kan­nada. Some vol­un­teers even con­ducted ses­sions in Nagamese, Mizo, Por­tuguese, Ti­betan and Chi­nese.

“Paplu, the Gi­ant does seem to have made a place in chil­dren's hearts and we hope that they con­tinue fall­ing in love with sto­ries and books. What has left us speech­less is the com­mit­ment of so many peo­ple to come for­ward to con­duct th­ese ses­sions and work their magic with chil­dren. If we can all make read­ing to chil­dren a part of our reg­u­lar rou­tine, we will not be far away from spread­ing a cul­ture of read­ing in In­dia,” says Suzanne Singh, man­ag­ing trus­tee of Pratham Books.

Started in 2004 in Ben­galuru, Pratham Books is a not- for- profit or­gan­i­sa­tion headed by Ro­hini Nilekani. The or­gan­i­sa­tion aims to pro­vide af­ford­able books to chil­dren across the coun­try and have pub­lished over 215 ti­tles till date in English and other In­dian lan­guages. Most of th­ese books can be pur­chased for as lit­tle as 25. They have also printed over 10 mil­lion story cards and cur­rently boast of a read­er­ship of nearly 25 mil­lion.

Un­like last year when the or­gan­i­sa­tion found it­self strug­gling to con­duct ses­sions and find vol­un­teers in the North East­ern states, this year, nine suc­cess­ful ses­sions were con­ducted in Arun­chal Pradesh and nine dis­tricts of Ma­nipur. Three ses­sions were also con­ducted in one vil­lage un­der the Mamit dis­trict which is one of the most im­pov­er­ished dis­tricts of Mi­zo­ram. Some NGOs work­ing with men­tally and phys­i­cally chal­lenged chil­dren re­ceived such an over­whelm­ing re­sponse with the sto­ry­telling ses­sions that sim­i­lar cen­tres from across the coun­try asked to be a part of the pro­gramme as well. “Teach for Nepal Fel­lows were so ex­cited to hear about this ini­tia­tive and were happy to read the sto­ries in their classrooms in Nepal. The In­dian De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion lent huge sup­port by co­or­di­nat­ing 110 sto­ry­telling ses­sions with the dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tions they work with in cities such as Jaipur, Se­cun­der­abad, Patna, Manali, Leh and Bel­lary. In Ben­galuru, the­atre artist Vikram Srid­har en­thralled the chil­dren with his act and in­ter­ac­tive sto­ry­telling method,” adds Singh.

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