September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. It was first celebrated in 1966. Pratham Books is celebrating the same today throughout India by giving many people like me a chance to become a Pratham Book Champion to encourage literacy. Celebrations take place around the world every year, but before getting an invite from Pratham Books this year, I sadly had never given it so much thought.
It felt great to be one of the 250 + Champions all over India, reading the same book Susheela’s Kolam, today to so many children. Bal Niketan, a primary school where I conducted the story telling sessions is run in a temple in sector 37 , Noida. It is managed by Mrs. Usha Agarwal who has given both financial aid and her precious time to help the school grow to a strength of 270 children from economically weaker sections of society. Hats Off to her spirit and the work she is doing.I conducted four separate sessions for children from grades I – V. It was refreshing to see the children exhibiting so much interest and willingness to learn . The children did an activity of drawing and colouring Rangoli and Kolam Patterns on paper after the story telling session. And God! their drawings and patterns were really beautiful. The school did not have enough space to do the patterns on the floor but the children promised to practice the designs on the floor at home and make them during Diwali. The children knew about most of the festivals but were not aware of Pongal and tradition of making Kolams . They were so inquisitive that we had an extended session where I ended up answering a lot of questions about the festival and Kolams.
The children really liked the book Susheela’s Kolams and I loved reciting it along with Mimi and Bhensa to all the 165 children in these classes. Thanks Pratham for the opportunity. I am so inspired that I am looking at setting up a library from my personal collection of books in this school and lend support in doing more story telling sessions there.
Bal Niketan Kids Work
- Pratham’s unique Initiative on World literacy day. (economistindia.wordpress.com)
- Reading Susheela’s Kolams: Public Events you can Attend (prathambooks.org)
- How ‘Susheela’s Kolams’ took shape (prathambooks.org)
- Gifting Education to Children in Need (mombloggersforsocialgood.com)
- A Social Publishing Strategy by John Gautam, Pratham Books (beth.typepad.com)