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