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The room in Delhi Public Library, Sarojini Nagar, was warm and welcoming in the cold wintry morning as sunlight streamed into the room through the numerous windows. So, it was in this library with windows, that children from five different schools trooped in, took off their shoes, lined them neatly against the wall and took their place on dhurries neatly laid by the DPL staff.

The first sesson

The first sesson

The first session of the day did not fail to impress the children. Ankit Chadha, dastango and storyteller, wove two beautiful stories for the children who stayed wide-mouthed and agape clearly wanting more. The first story about Raja Vikram and Karan with its frequent mentions of tasty masalas and pakoras warmed up the children to the storyteller.

The second story about the stonecutter kept the children guessing until they heard the surprise end. But as is the case with every session in Bookaroo, the one-hour session ended at 10:30 am sharp so that children could have a refreshment break till 11.

While the children had their refreshment provided by the library, the teachers and principals accompanying the school met with us over a cup of tea to know more about Bookaroo. Many of them promised to come to the Librarians session ‘Life in the Library’ on Nov 22 at IGNCA as well as the weekend celebrations.

At 11, the TERI team took over the stage with quizzes on recycling, facts about reusing and examples of biodegradable waste. The atmosphere got charged as every child in the room had an activist look in their eyes They knew exactly what was expected of them and they wanted to reassure the adults in the room that the earth was in safe hands and they would do whatever it takes to reduce, reuse and recycle. A bright young boy got up to reiterate, “This session will not end here. We are taking the learnings with us and spread the word”. What more could we ask for?

Bookaroo team

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Today’s session was really good. I accompanied Kshama Sharma to Deepalaya School, Okhla. The first look of the place was not very impressive but we were welcomed warmly and the children were really interactive and full of energy.

Participation Factor

Participation Factor

They completely followed Kshama in making their own story with the help of few illustrations. Each and every student participated throughout the workshop.

The author’s way of story telling, connecting things and spontaneity added the cherry to the cake. 
Initially there was half an hour delay on the driver’s part but still we could reach the author’s place on time. After that all things were on time.

Teachers of the school were happy with the session being so responsive and interactive. We ended the session with thanks to Kshama, the school and to Bookaroo.

By Surbhi Gupta

Today I accompanied Sister Jean and Father Elder to Nigam Pratibha, the MCD School in Govindpuri. The school is clean, organized and well equipped. It is located in a good environment and has only 430 students. The teachers are dedicated and discipline is good. The young Teachforindia teachers ably support the school staff.

Novel ideas

Novel ideas

We had our session with the class 3 children who were most excited about the puppet show. They could comprehend the English language fairly well and were actually communicating in English as much as possible. This, in an MCD school was an eye opener for me. Currently there is a lot of stress in teaching the English language.

There were storybooks in the classroom and last year they had enacted ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’. Sister Jean played out this story through the medium of puppets and the kids were fascinated by the colour and simplicity of the narration. It helped that they knew the story. At the end of it the kids wanted to know when would we be back again.

The atmosphere during such sessions was so energetic because of the novelty of the whole thing – the kids would do anything to be a part of such activities. Today we had a lot of teacher participation too including the principal who came to see the session. They were thankful that Bookaroo was providing this kind of an opportunity to their students.

By Sushmi Mukherjee

Today, I went to D.T.E.A. Senior Secondary School, Sector–IV, R. K. Puram with speaker Tomoko Kikuchi

Tomoko Kikuchi

Tomoko Kikuchi

When we entered the school we received a very warm welcome. Students started gathering in the room where the session would take place and when we entered the room, they greeted us with smiles on their faces. We started the session on time and I gave little introduction about the author and tried to make a comfortable atmosphere between the kids and the author.

Tomoko Kikuchi started the session based on the Hiroshima bomb attack. She told students about the Atom Bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki using power point presentation to relate the stories. The students were very much involved in what Timoko was saying. There was pin drop silence in the room and their eyes were on the screen and ears were on the author’s voice.

During the session Timoko asked questions related to the story she was telling. The kids answered each question correctly and there was a round of applause for each correct answer.

The session ended with questions and answers and then Tomoko Kikuchi thanked all the students for listening to the story with patience. Then I thanked Tomoko Kikuchi for such a fascinating session.

The school faculty thanked Bookaroo and the author for such an educational session and requested us to arrange some more such sessions for their students.

I must say it was a successful event and students learned about the atom bomb attack on Hiroshima in detail which previously they had only read about in their books

By Rashmi Azad

When the session began the children of Kendriya Vidyalaya Masjid Moth were really excited about the ghostly detective workshop.

Shweta Taneja divided them into around 10 to 12 groups of 9 to 12 children. The task given to the children was to solve a case mystery through discussion.

Decoding clues

Decoding clues

They were given some clues and had to write or draw their answer as a story. As usual, the children loved solving the mystery and enjoyed drawing comics.  They were enjoying and discussing things so much that they were making a lot of noise. It was a very joyful noise.

Further clues were given to them after a solving part of the mystery, which kept the suspense and forced the children to use their imagination. When the session got up to finish there were different-different conclusions/stories but only one group could reach the correct one. Still each student loved the session: it was full of excitement and fun!

Gurasha Bagri

I had reached Samarpan School in Vasant Kunj at 10 am and set up the standy and the easel. Mats were then placed to ensure clear seating for all the students.

Illustrations magic

Illustrations magic

Rajiv and Kiran of Flavour of Art joined us at 10:40. Mrs Wadia from the school showed us around and Rajiv visited all the classrooms and interacted with the students much to their delight. He even remarked at their creative artwork in their sketchbooks and appreciated their charts in the classrooms.

The children enjoyed the story about all the colours of the rainbow and interacted with great fervour in the session conducted by Rajiv. It was a pleasure to see the little ones give their best answers and feeling proud of doing so. Later, the children drew pictures on their reflections of the stories.

The Flavour of art team greatly encouraged each one’s efforts and gave personalised feedback to each child.

Lastly we enjoyed yummy Kadi Chawal (thank you Mrs Wadia for insisting so much) and bid adieu.

Swati

Today’s session at Nigam Pratibha Vidyalaya, Sangham Vihar offered a different dimension to storytelling and was very interesting with the use of puppets. Nigam Pratibha Vidyalaya is a government school and the sheer number of children who would benefit from these sessions is most challenging.

SISTER JEAN SLOCOMBE NOV 11THThe lucky 32 girls chosen were a very energetic, enthusiastic bunch and their level of English was good as Anand Sharma, a Teach India volunteer, is currently coaching them. The props and the puppets fascinated the young girls and they knew the story of the ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’ but the accent of Sister Jean Slocombe was difficult for them to follow especially with the absence of a microphone, as there was no power.

There was also a certain amount of distraction from children outside the classroom. Consequently, there were no questions from the children but some asked us whether we will come back again. There were many children outside the classroom, peering through the two windows and wanting a slice of the fun activity going inside. I wish we could have involved them too.

While leaving we were given probably the warmest ‘send-off’ that we could ever hope to get in our lives, other than our target class there were hundreds wanting to shake hands and asking when we would come again. This was so touching.

By Sushmi Mukherjee

You put 220 students into a room and throw in a mystery to solve. Not just any mystery, a ghost mystery! What could possibly happen? Yup! Imagination running wild, so wild that it translates as sound and high-energy physical activity. Shweta Taneja is today’s storyteller, the one responsible for stirring up such busyness at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya. She who looks nothing like how I’d imagined a mystery-writer to be (and for this I blame Agatha Christie), she who is queen bee with tiny worker bees fixated on her every word.

Detectives in the making

Detectives in the making

The children are aged 9-11, bouncy, excited and very eager to be the next ghost detective. They are divided into groups of 12 each and have now to help Kartik (the main character in her book) solve the case of Mrs. Banerjee’s missing diamond necklace. 5 clues are handed out in successive intervals, each quickly digested. The bees then huddle together to discuss. Mystery solving is very serious business indeed!

Our little detectives did not disappoint. Several groups solved the puzzle, except we fell short of time and none could finish their illustrations. With the closing of the session was the opening of the floodgates, children rushing for an autograph from a real writer! Shweta seemed to be overwhelmed with all her little fans (which they were, by the time we were done!) hovering around her. I think she only just realized what a star she’d become J

The school then gracefully thanked the writer (and I) with a card and a gift. Shweta ended with some words of encouragement and inspiration: a lot of curiosity and imagination is what she prescribed to the wide-eyed students.

Her book, ‘The Ghost Hunters of Kurseong’, is also a lesson in geography, as most children would need more than 5 clues to figure out where Kurseong is located. I bet the popularity of the hill station is going to shoot up ten-fold by the time the Bookaroo literature festival is done. Which reminds me, there were plenty of queries about the festival and I’m positive we will have a huge attendance from SPV. If that isn’t cause for celebration, what is?

By Yirmiyan Arthur

With a 09.25 start the session at Nav Nirman Gujarati School in Jahangirpuri began with an introduction.

The conductor

The conductor

Suvidha explained to the children about different shapes to be found all around us and how with different shapes animals can be drawn. She taught them to make animals and cartoons with paper cuttings by pasting on sheet of paper. All the kids loved making different animals from penguins to caterpillars to lions.

Although the session was scheduled to be in Hindi and English, Suvidha showed her versatility in language… “The best part about the event was that Suvidha conversed with the children in the Gujarati language”. Children were more comfortable in Gujarati than in Hindi and it really added to their enjoyment. The school had requested to do the session with all the 450 children in their school, but given the resource and time consideration it would not have been possible but we did manage to cater for 65 children. The session ended with thanks all round and a thank you note given to Suvidha.

By Mudit Malik

As we drove past the Hindustan Times Building at Kasturba Gandhi Marg, Prakash Manu told me “When I joined Nandan, I had not a grey hair on my head and when I left, I had not a black hair left,” referring to the children’s magazine he was associated with for more than 25 years. The magazine functioned out of the HT Building. I figured this was going to be a journey of nostalgia…

On the stage

On the stage

The session at Bal Sahyog (in Connaught Place) started almost an hour late because, on arrival, we discovered there was another very important event that clashed with ours. Free haircuts provided by Affinity salon. Of course, grooming should always be first choice, or so thought the school authorities.

And we were also about to discover that Prakashji takes storytelling very seriously. A soft-spoken person, his voice dramatically amplified once he began. We traveled through three wonderful stories. Each with a lot of humor and a dash of magic! Take ‘Hawa didi ki circus’ where we follow the antics of the wind, making trees perform acrobatic tricks to entertain a little boy called Nikka. Or Pintu and his fixation for shoes and how a pair he once stole made him dance until he dropped with exhaustion. At the end of each story Prakashji drew the boys back to the present in a very subtle yet clever way so that they could connect with it in their everyday lives.

And then! The stage was left open for the boys to display their story-telling skills. A bit hesitant in the beginning, after the first 2 boys bravely finished their part, nothing could stop the rest of them and we had a slew of story-telling and poetry recitation. What a treat!

Prakashji ended the session by telling us how stories connect us to the lives of others and urged the young boys to read more. He hoped to one day, years from now, bump into them as successful young men and they would remember him from his ‘Bookaroo in the City’ story-telling session.

By Yirmiyan Arthur