Monday, July 1, 2013

Stories and beyond

Korika at Tilonia

The Organization for Early Literacy Promotion (OELP) and SWRC, Tilonia, organized a unique Kahani Mela for children on 22nd and 23rd June at the Shiksha Niketan School campus. A stagerring 1200 children from 40 villages from the Silora Block of Ajmer participated in the festival.

The Kahani Mela was the culmination of an intensive engagement with stories in many different ways during the summer vacation. For almost six weeks children in these 40 villages were actively engaged in listening to stories.

Sharada Kolluru, writer of A Kite Called Korika, did a reading session at the Mela and had an invigorating time. She shares here thoughts below.

Children at the Kahani Mela
Kira Kita Kira Kita, the sound of a bullock. Gala gala sala sala, the sound of a flowing river. These sounds were recognised quickly in the room filled with Rajasthani children listening to A Kite called Korika. Telugu phrases from  the book were effortlessly repeated with immense enthusiasm by children who didn’t even know the language!

Writer Sharada (left) with the kids

I was quite excited  when  I got invited to Kahani Mela which was organised by OELP in Kishangarh, for a reading and an activity session.  And when I went there, I  understood that the children were  much more excited than I was. They couldn’t wait to know what  Korika was all about!

I  just loved the way the children heard the story  with which  they connected easily due to its rural setting and the authenticity that is involved. The rhythmic words caught their attention and many of them couldn’t stop giggling. They agreed with me when we discussed that every object on this earth has a sound which is peculiar in its own way and that they sound almost similar in whatever language we speak. As the writer of the story, I  felt extremely satisfied for bringing those genuine smiles to their faces.

Wishing upon kites
After the reading session, we did an activity where the kids wrote their wishes on kites that were given to everyone. The little children had sweet and simple wishes.While most of the girls wanted bangles like Ammavalli in the story, the boys wished for either a watch, pen or a plate filled with pooris and halwa ,  exactly like the character Ranga in the book. A few of the older children wanted to be educated so that they become teachers. They also wanted baarish (rain) and haryali (greenery) around.

That’s when I realised that I came up with a story which children can relate to in most of the villages in our country. Every Yella and Malla in rural India seek simple things in life which are taken for granted by most of us in the cities.

We concluded the session with a small play which the children came up with, that involved  Rajasthani songs to which each of them danced beautifully. I must confess I could not match up to their thumkas (movement of the waist). A big thank you to Tulika, Keerti, Aarti and Jaya who never stopped smiling even while handling around 1200 children at the Kahani Mela which gave me a soul touching experience."

Dinaben at JustBooks 

On a cool Sunday evening,  JustBooks Adyar, saw toddlers walk in all geared up to hear a special story about lions. As they quickly setlled down with their ears wide open, writer Meera asked them to guess where they were going, hoping of course, that they would say forest. But one happy little girl yelled DISNEYLAND! And that's when Meera knew it was going to be a wilder ride than she thought!

Meera kickstarted the session with action-packed songs and then jumped straight into the story of Dinaben and the lions of Gir. The story revolves around the Maldharis in the forest of Gir live with lions in their backyard. Dinaben raises cows, collects milk and makes butter, curd and ghee and sells them for a living. One child wanted to know, "But why can't she eat all the ghee?" The library was filled with giggle fits as children voiced their opinions and suggestions. 

Writer Meera with the kids

After the reading, the children made origami lion masks and parents were delighted to see the multicoloured lions who surfaced at the end of the activity. Every child had a roaring time and wanted a lion in their own backyard!

All the little cubs

Junuka at JustBooks

It was broad daylight but the 33 kids who had gathered at JustBooks, Coimbatore, for writer-illustrator Junuka Deshpande's session, went for a walk in the night!

Junuka in action

Junuka got the kids excited in no time as she made them imitate various night sounds and calls. Hooting owls, rustling leaves, the flapping wings of bats flying in the dark... They talked about everything they saw in the book and the things they had observed at night.

Three cheers to books and reading!

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