A book, a storyteller, and some joyous young faces

It’s always encouraging to see children pick up the reading habit. Not that many do that these days. Also, parents, teachers and others who run activity centres for children, who enthuse and motivate them to read storybooks, deserve a lot of credit. Because they are really up against the odds – most children would do anything to be left undisturbed while they are glued to television watching cartons, serials and films. I know of quite a few in my family (including my cousins and others) who have children and are fighting a losing battle every day – while desperately trying to get their children (ages three onwards) away from the television set, getting them to eat properly, do their homework etc. So, getting them to read storybooks and get a broader view f the world is simply beyond them. And many of them don’t really care beyond a point; they have never taken a serious initiative as such.

A couple of enterprising women who run activity centres for children recently teamed up with Tulika Publishers to get storyteller Craig Jenkins to enact stories and interact with children at the launch of the book, In Bon Bibi's Forest. It was heartening to see many of them trooping in to the venue at the scheduled time, enjoy every moment of the evening, and taking part with inhibition. There were several parents, made of mostly mothers, who were also transported to another world. They all deserve applause because in the midst of homemaking and work and all else, they had found time to get their children to a storytelling event at 7pm. Many of them belong to another generation where the book-reading habit came more naturally, when there was no lure of television and other distractions as such. It was clear they wanted their children to experience the pleasure of reading. It was also clear to me as the evening progressed, that if parents and teachers took the initiative, it was not too difficult to coax children into reading books. The joy in their faces was so much evident. You can tell from the pictures here.

It, of course, brings into focus a subject that is always talked about – how our education system needs to change. But that’s another story.

Pictures show Proiti Roy (the illustrator), with Sandhya Rao's (the author) help, showing the children her creations; children raise copies of the book they have purchased and pose for a picture with Sandhya and storyteller Craig Jenkins; the joyous faces; and Craig in full flow as the audience laps it all up.


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