In the name of “Storytelling”

I have always been intrigued by narratives and for quite some time I had been contemplating on having a storytelling session with children, for there is always so much to learn from them.

Thanks to Pratham and Lit World (http://blog.prathambooks.org/2012/03/tribe-of-pratham-books-champions.html), I volunteered to read out a story called “Paper Play” (Written by Mala Kumar, Illustrated by Ruchi Shah, Pratham Publication) to children in Ahmedabad.

7th March is “World Read Aloud Day” and though I wanted to conduct multiple sessions and reach out as many children as I could, considering the festival Holi,  I conducted today’s session with a small yet exceptionally vibrant and enthusiastic group of children. The next session shall be held at a school along with dialogue on Child Rights and Paper Craft Workshop.Following are notes and pictures from today’s experience.

Today’s session would have been impossible without our jovial and loving Prakash Bhai, who works at the National Institute of Design (NID), Gandhinagar. Prakash Bhai and his  wife were extremely supportive and helpful in conducting this session at their special terrace.

(Note: all the photographs in this post are only to share the experience of the session and must not be used for any other purpose!)

Prakash Bhai with his Better Half (Photograph taken from facebook)
Sudeep Shyamal, Photographer for our mini event

( All following Photographs Courtesy Sudeep Shyamal)

The playful terrace

Artwork on the terrace has been done by students of Toy and Game Design at NID. This lively environment was indeed a great boon.

Colors of Joy
All set!
And the Story begins with the Window

We started with four, in due course via interest and word of mouth we were seven children and three adults. In the beginning, I also gave sheets (we reused sheets which went waste in an earlier purpose) and pencils, so that they could write down about things we discuss throughout the story. I did not want it to be a one way process, and intended to make it as participatory as I could.

This is where we discussed our favorite foods
Discussing Bittoo who sings popular movie songs
Keen interest?
Children singing their favorite songs. Here Jinal singing a recent Bollywood number.
Gujarati version of Kolaveri Di
Everyone's enjoying and engaged
Now original Kolaveri being sung by Arth, upcoming Rockstar
The illustration style in the book was quite liked by children as they repeatedly asked to go through the pictures themselves.

We also spoke about paper boats, our favorite movies, actors, whom we idolize as heroes and where all would we like to travel, just as Bittoo in the story wished to sail all around the world in his paper boat.

Since Bittoo seemed to be liking fame, all of them wrote their answers on what they wanted to be when they grew up and what were their dreams. From driving an auto rickshaw to wearing high heels, we sure had fun discussing our dreams.The children also shared their favorite destinations and where all they would like to travel, Kankaria Lake (Ahmedabad) and Canada seemed to be much preferred locations.

Children kept cracking jokes in between and shared incidents from school
All ears!

Now, we reached an interesting stage when Jinal promptly volunteered to cut a hole in the paper just like children in the story did. Arth drew the circle, Jinal cut it with scissors (she seemed to be really enjoying craft) and everyone got their picture clicked from behind the hole, just like in the book! and of course, each time “Smile Please!”

Jinal cuts the paper
Dhruv and Aryan
Hetu and Arth
A look at the illustrations
Children telling names of their best friends. Dhruv's best friend is Salman Khan.

This input from Dhruv came in when we were talking about names of our friends as compared to names of children in the book. Since he mentioned Salman Khan as his best friend everyone came up with their favorite characters on Television. And voila! they even enacted their roles :

Arth enacting a character from "Chidia Ghar"
Spontaneous Garba by Aryan
Spider Man!!
Happy Hetu thinking of her favorite character on T.V.
According to story, Anil redrew the Sun

So why should we be left behind?

Shaping the Sun
Different respresentations
Once the story came to an end, all of them narrated a story/joke each. Here Hetal is telling a joke on how a Lady applied lipstick all over her face during electricity cut and ended up looking like a Post Office.

Jinal narrated a story on Ghosts later. This led us to talk about villians. According to Hetal, Aryan was one for he would tease her.

Children giving feedback. "Very Good Story"- Aryan

And now our terrace version of Art Attack :

Since the story began with a window, I asked them to list down what they possibly see from their window (including ghosts) and we could make our own window and gift it to Prakash Bhai for being so generous and supportive.

The window
Group at Work
Shreyas (post word of mouth)
Everyone must participate

Our Guest 🙂
Quick recap
Discussing placement
Intense Discussions
One side almost done. Unanimous decision to keep the Ghost hidden until one opens window. We had two National Flags visible from our Magic Window. They also came up with a brilliant suggestion to put the ghost on a spring so that it would pop out and be scarier (by the way, noticed the red teeth?) Alas! we had no spring.
We had enough illustrations, so we decided to put them at the back side. After all, its a magic window, anything can happen!
And we are done. The Window is gifted to Prakash Bhai by the youngest one, Dhruv.

Since these children stay in Prakash Bhai’s neighbourhood, his house allows fair access (to Window) to all of them and they can come and use/play with it any time.

A look at our Window urf Mini Kaavad 😉

Window Closed
Window Open and Magic!
Backside: Notice the thoughtful alignment of the pond
Thankyou Prakash Bhai and Sudeep Shyamal

A very special thanks to Shruthi Raj Gangadhar and Suneeta Karri  (Toy and Game Design, NID) for their help and support. We definitely owe a thanks to Pratham for giving us the opportunity to enjoy this Story.

Today was the first time I had met these children and we ended up having  great fun. Not only was it constructive but also a good learning experience. The children enjoyed themselves and had to be called back to their homes after two hours. They all liked the story but we felt it could perhaps have been even longer. 🙂 A day truly spent well.


4 thoughts on “In the name of “Storytelling”

  1. It is indeed a pleasure to see all the pictures, children and grown-ups in-pursuit-of-a-story together! And I wish all of us had terraces like Prakash Bhai’s! A wonderful yet simple idea to give life a colourful flight. Keep it up…..all of you.

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