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The final day of Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain touched upon one of the less-emphasised aspects of life and humanity. Don’t forget history, was the message. And it doesn’t matter where in the world the lesson comes from.

Tomoko Kikuchi is Japanese but has lived in India for 21 years. Her interest in India started when she was in high school and soon after she moved out of Japan. After mastering Hindi she now translates Japanese books into Hindi. According to Tomoko, nobody should ignore history.

A little bit of history through little Michan's eyes

A little bit of history through little Michan’s eyes

Today, she laid bare the facts of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing on the 6th and the 9th of August 1945 respectively that hastened the end of World War II. The children were shocked to learn the brutality of the episode, which destroyed two cities and maimed the lives of those living there.

Tomoko chose a picture story depiction of the journey of a young girl named Michan. Through the eyes of the young heroine, the kids learnt how the mundane scenery was suddenly disturbed on the morning of the 6th of August at Hiroshima. The struggle to stay alive in those trying times amidst the stench of dead bodies and ailing individuals was the real test. The continuous rain that spread radiation all over had crippled everyone’s lives as long as they lived.

Friends and relatives who had later come to inquire after their friends were also affected due to their exposure to radiation. In the story, we learnt about Michan’s stunted growth even after seven years and also the abrupt death of her father a year after the bombings. The after-effects were unpredictable and incurable. It wasn’t just the Japanese who were killed. There were people from China, Russia, US, Indonesia and Korea among other nationalities.

Tomoko also touched upon the moral dilemmas of being an atom bomb survivor and dealing with the plight of marriage and parenthood. One story was about the protagonist who died on her wedding day. Another story was about a parent’s insistence of not agreeing to her child’s marriage because the partner was an atom bomb survivor.

Every year, on the 6th of August, prayers are offered in remembrance of the dreadful event. The session ended with a small quiz about the facts discussed in the stories. The children had to answer with either a Yes/No or A/B. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the session. Tomoko skillfully revealed certain cultural preferences and geographical features while retaining the seriousness of the matter. The children took back with them certain invaluable lessons.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Bookaroo-DPL Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain is supported by mycity4kids and DK India.

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Day 22 of Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain began with Sonali Biswas taking the children on a new flight of imagination. She began the session by narrating two tales. Each of the tales had mesmerizing illustrations. The children were hooked to the world of stories and listened with rapt attention.

The first story was about River Ganga’s grievance against the people living in the hills of Kumaon. Ganga refused to step out of a little boy’s razai box until the villagers brought her the long tangled hair of Lord Shiva. After much thinking, the villagers found a solution. The roots of the trees resembled the long tangled hair of Lord Shiva.

Creative spaces

Creative spaces

Ganga was content when she saw the villagers working hard to preserve the trees and keep the soil and dirt from polluting her water. The roots of the trees were brought to her. She went back to her place and the villagers successfully calmed her wrath. The story was beautiful indeed but the illustrations made the episode come alive.

The second story, Tiger on a Tree by Pulak Biswas was about the plight of a tiger caught unaware by strange creatures. The poor tiger was so scared when he saw a goat that he tried climbing a tree. A few villagers saw a tiger up on the tree and wanted to catch him. They ran towards the tree carrying a huge net. The poor animal panicked and jumped down straight into the net.

The villagers, however, decided to leave the tiger in another shore since there was no point of putting him in a cage in a zoo, painting him electric blue or sticking him with glue. After all, he was a poor, harmless creature who hadn’t attacked anyone. Here too, there were striking illustrations to explain the intricacies of the plot.

After the storytelling session, Sonali asked the children to grab colours, sketch pens and papers to illustrate whatever they wished to, keeping in mind the stories they had just heard. The kids sat around in groups and ideas were exchanged for the next five minutes. The image of the tiger on the tree captured most kids’ imagination. The waterfall was the next favourite. Some were happy to remain in their comfort zones and painted scenery. A few played with colours and came up with bold, prominent illustrations with multiple hues. Overall, it was a fun and euphoric experience for the children as well as Sonali herself.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Bookaroo-DPL Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain is supported by mycity4kids and DK India.

Today was day 3 with Muriel. The session began where it left off yesterday – the posters. Each group of children came up and explained what they were trying to depict through the posters.

Group 1’s poster was about how the elements of nature – trees, mountains, the sun and animals (specifically bulls and cows) – thrive together. Each of these elements should be preserved and saved. Resources should be conserved and animals should be saved from becoming extinct.

On with the masks

On with the masks

Group 2 came up with a simple message – bulls should be got out of the list of the endangered species. Group 3 also expressed concern about the bulls becoming extinct. Group 4 explained that nature and its animals should be saved. Group 5 explained the matter in details – bulls are being imported from other countries in the hope that more milk would be produced and thus they are only feeding and caring for those imported bulls. The Indian bulls are being neglected. They should be saved. The other groups too explained their posters and gave similar explanations. The harmful effects of crossbreeding were explained to them once more.

Muriel told the children that they have been discussing cows and bulls so that the kids have some understanding of this trend against indigenous animals. Now, if any of them goes to the villages, perhaps they will be able to speak with a few of the farmers. Textbooks do not tell us about these subjects but they are relevant in the long run and an important aspect of lifecycle.

The children were again divided into groups and this time each group had 4-5 members. Every group had to make two masks: an Indian cow and a European cow. Children divided the tasks of sketching, colouring and cutting amongst themselves. They were also asked to do a small skit where two from each group would wear the masks and act out a series of dialogues between the cows from different countries.

Only one group came up with a presentation titled: Molly meets Manju. It was well done where Molly complains to Manju about her plight of adjusting to the Indian climate!

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Bookaroo-DPL Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain is supported by mycity4kids and DK India.

The day began with a storytelling session. The twist was that the kids were the spectators as well as the storytellers! They were quite happy to narrate the stories that were put together yesterday. They also showed us the illustrations that they designed for their story. The theme was the same for everyone – Molly, the cow from Jersey Island’s visit to Rajasthan and Kerala.

Here are a few glimpses. One group stressed on Molly’s inability to navigate the deserts of Rajasthan. Another group talked about the scarcity of water in Rajasthan. They showed how Molly became confused by a mirage each time expecting it to be a source of water. Tired and exhausted, Molly was taken home by an old man who comforted her.

The pledge

The pledge

Molly found a friend in Rajasthan, the Gir cow but decided to go to Kerala due to the unbearable climatic conditions in Rajasthan. Another group’s story revolved around the cold nights that Molly had to spend in Rajasthan. One of the groups even prepared a neat booklet with their story and illustrations. It was such a delight! One child who had not been present for the session, the previous day, decided to tell us an extempore story.

Muriel had some exciting activity planned for the kids next. There was a slide show about bulls and cows specifically focusing on the differences between the European ones and the Indian ones. This was not only to inform them as to why imported animals cannot execute most of the tasks that the indigenous ones carry out efficiently, but also to point towards the exploitation of the gene pool by crossbreeding.

The children were curious. Was it really possible that the cows and bulls that we often encounter on the streets are not of Indian origin? They could not believe it really. Horns, humps, tails, and colours make all the difference, pointed out Muriel. Cross breeding confuses these demarcations at times. Imported cows produce more than 30 litres of milk unlike the indigenous ones, which produce much less. However, the former cannot produce so much of milk if the climatic conditions are vastly different from what they are used to.

The kids were also shown few game traditions in villages involving the bulls and the cows. The age-old plough cart method was environmentally ideal but modern day tractors have replaced them. Wouldn’t it be better to resort to older way? The children could not totally agree with the idea but they were happy to listen and learn nonetheless. A few posters about saving endangered species were shown to them. In the end they were asked to make posters – draw an Indian cow or bull and leave a message about their condition. Each group had 3 members. Each came up with colourful, meaningful and artistic posters.

 

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Bookaroo-DPL Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain is supported by mycity4kids and DK India.

Muriel Kakani, today’s speaker had a touching story to share – a story that is hardly known and needs to be explored. She structured her talk around the yaks of Ladakh.

The story that surprised the children was how Molly, the European cow from Jersey Island had been brought to Ladakh to replace the wonderful yak. Is it even possible? Aren’t they totally different? Yak’s milk is important for the inhabitants of Ladakh, not only for drinking but also for making cheese. Its wool is useful for making sweaters and shoes and the dung is necessary for burning. So, how and why did Molly land up here. The only reason was that the yak couldn’t produce a lot of milk. And did Molly have a good time?

Of yaks and cows

Of yaks and cows

Unlike the yak, which has short legs and small hooves, making it easier to climb mountains, cows are built differently. The fur of the yaks makes them feel hot which is why they often sit and rest. The cow finds the weather too cold and suffers from altitude sickness. Is it not unfair to presume that animals will perform all those functions that they are gifted with, despite severe climatic changes and physical discomfort?

The cow from Jersey Island can produce lots of milk in normal conditions. So Ladakh definitely is not the place for her. On the other hand, isn’t it necessary to be a little patient with the wonderful yaks? Once the children learnt about this partially researched agenda of importing foreign species to manufacture products that are otherwise produced by indigenous animals in India, they were shocked.

Based on this information, the children were given two topics: Molly, the cow from Jersey Island meets the indigenous cow of Rajasthan, Gir cow or Kerala’s Vechur cow. Kids were asked to write a letter, speech or story. They were also asked to make illustrations according to the plot of the story. Children were divided into five groups where some worked on writing the story or content and the rest concentrated on illustrations.

The stories are to be read out aloud by each group tomorrow while Muriel takes us through yet another exciting episode! The workshop unlike the other days was primarily in English but with a little help from hidden pockets, kids got involved quite easily and they look forward to more such informative yet fun sessions.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Bookaroo-DPL Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain is supported by mycity4kids and DK India.

Imagination. That is what Subir Roy took the children on a tour of on the 18th day of Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain. He decided to take them on a train journey. It is always interesting to look out of a moving train. There is the changing scenery, funny objects and interesting people that one can observe whizzing by. The finer details come out more clearly when the train comes to a halt.

Today, Subir shared Rahul’s expedition. Rahul, a small boy of 6-7 years was going to visit his grandmother and grandfather along with his sister. The destination wasn’t disclosed in the beginning. The story was narrated through a series of illustration.

Window-gazing

Window-gazing

Fascinated

Fascinated

Subir started sketching a face followed by a body of Rahul, a young boy on the flipchart. He turned the page and fixed a windowpane made of black chart paper on the following page. Before drawing the next set of characters and objects, he asked the children what they normally see when they look out of the window of a train.

The responses ranged from multiple-tea-sellers, to coolies, to people dressed in various clothes. He started to scribble certain outlines. The children guessed it to be a potbelly of a man, a coolie at his side and so on. He removed the windowpane and finished sketching the rest of the image – the man with the potbelly had his palms tucked inside his trouser pockets, a coolie on the other side, and a flight of stairs leading to another platform. He later explained that when seen from inside the train, only a partial picture is visible. However, when the train stops, one can properly peep outside and have the full view. Rahul did the same.

“What did he see next?” asked Subir. Children answered grass, plants, and buildings perhaps. Subir nodded. He told them that Rahul did see buildings but something else too and hoped that the children would be able to guess that object. After a while, children identified the level crossing and a car and a truck waiting for the train to pass. There were buildings too. The third image was remarkable as he invited one of the kids to draw a bridge and he did a fine job. So this time, outside the window, Rahul saw a bridge, a flowing river, birds flying in the sky and a smiling cloud. Rahul could even imagine the cloud talking to him, asking him where was he off to? To which he replied that he was going to visit his grandparents.

The next set of images that Rahul encountered was not a common sight the city dwellers witnessed everyday. He saw a field of sugarcane, a tractor carrying the crops and a scarecrow in the middle of the field to keep away the birds and other harmful creatures. Birds were flying too.

Then came the favourite moment for all children, Rahul could see the tunnel – all dark and scary inside and a glimpse of another compartment. As the story progressed, we got to know where Rahul’s grandparents lived. It was a hilly area. Naturally, the last set of visuals that Rahul saw from the window of the train was that of set of pretty houses, whose tops were snow-clad. After he got off the train, Rahul and his sister were received by their grandparents who were dressed in warm clothes. More than the story, it was the frame-by-frame unveiling that the children loved. Every oncoming frame was eagerly anticipated.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Bookaroo-DPL Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain is supported by mycity4kids and DK India.

This was day 3 of the sessions organised by DK India. By now, the children who were participating regularly had a fair idea that they will be showered with different kinds of gifts alongside immense fun. The session began with warm ups where children had to let Ligi John and her team know that they were here to have a good time. One of the team members told the children about how fish sleep with their eyes open. She also told them that they should steer clear of fish-like tactics.

It was quiz time! Five teams were formed on the spot – Galaxy, Earth, Astronaut, Rocket and Alien. Children had the liberty to choose their group name, which they promptly did. Questions started to flow. It was all on the projector with four options to choose from.

Some examples: What are comets made of? (Dusty ice and rock along with gases), How is the atmosphere close to Venus? (Hot and poisonous), Where is the largest volcano in the Solar System, which is known as Olympus Mons found? (Mars), Where is our Solar System’s asteroid belt? (Mars and Jupiter), what is the scientific name of Earth’s moon? (Luna). Team Alien emerged winners. All the kids received a certificate for participation.

All about animals, the earth and space

All about animals, the earth and space

The next discussion was about the seven continents. Children watched a small video about how continents came into existence. A big mass of land called Pangea broke up because of friction between the tectonic plates and various other climatic changes. The children were then told about the Seven Wonders of the World.

Worksheets, a pen and colours were distributed to the kids. Each child had to join the dots on the given worksheet to find one of the Seven Wonders of the World. After they finished, a small video about the Wonders was shown. A small booklet about the Seven Wonders of the World was circulated amongst the kids after the activity.

The next activity was about getting to know the water animals. Each child was given a crossword puzzle sheet where at first they had to find the animal and then write down its name on the sheet. Then the solutions were screened on the projector with images. Children learnt about sea horses, blue whales, dolphins, sharks, crocodile, clownfish and octopus. At the end of the activity, a small booklet about water animals was circulated amongst the children.

Two videos were shown after this. One was about the octopus and its ability to hide itself in the face of danger. The second was about the helpful nature of dolphins. This was followed by a video on rockets and then one on the importance of conserving water. Overall, the children picked up few important messages. The Earth is an incredibly wonderful place and it is important to protect it and keep it clean. Resources should not be exploited beyond one’s necessity. Animals have a great sense of responsibility. Like the latter, children should learn to take care of themselves and also help friends in times of trouble.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Bookaroo-DPL Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain is supported by mycity4kids and DK India.

Day 16 started off with a bang. Children were welcomed with a Dinosaur Band by the DK team. Once the participants had settled down, a game called ‘Deeksha says’ began. Deeksha, one of the team members, randomly started giving instructions like About turn, go left, go right, clap, jump or walk and the children had to keep up with her set of instructions. This warm up was deliberately planned for the children to embark on all the exciting activities lined up for the day.

Today’s author, Kingshuk initiated the fascinating discussion about big animals and who according to them was the largest. Was it the elephant, giraffe or the hippopotamus? The next topic was that of monsters. Children excitedly shouted out various types of monsters they were familiar with. They spoke of Ravan, ET, Mummy and Godzilla. Movie clips of King Kong and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – the scene where Buckbeak was being readied to be killed, were shown. The children concluded that dinosaurs were also some kind of monsters. Their fossils are available today but they must have lived in the jungles, or the river areas, maybe the desert too. Some came up with names of the possible places they must have inhabited – Mexico, Africa, and North America.

Kingshuk takes charge

Kingshuk takes charge

A film clipping on dinosaurs was shown where, after a while, the dinosaur was seen moving away towards the side. The dinosaur even made a loud sound. First the kids were asked to imitate that sound which they all executed delightfully and perfectly. Then they were asked to look closely and come up with a plausible solution. Initially, the kids said that perhaps he was looking for food, calling out to his friends, shouting, walking and scaring away people, hunting or playing.

After watching it for the second time, one child figured it out. He said that a hardly audible sound came from the side and the dinosaur changed his direction in search of that sound. Therefore, children discovered the supreme hearing capacity of the dinosaur. Later, one of the children told us how some of the preying habits of dinosaurs and even their body structures are similar to certain kinds of birds.

When it came to deciphering the sizes of the dinosaurs, children were confused. One kid intelligently answered that it was impossible to determine the size by looking at the fossils. It is not easy to say how many elephants would make a dinosaur. However, a few of them guessed that it could be somewhere between 5 and 15.

They learnt later that dinosaurs came in various sizes – big and small. Their long necks were attributable to the fact that trees and plants were tall and that the poor creatures had to stretch their necks in pursuit of food. They were also divided into vegetarian and non-vegetarian category. Like birds, dinosaurs always moved in a group. It was their strategy to fight their enemy together and ensure that no harm came upon them. Dinosaurs too had families and homes.

The activities that followed this informative session were very engaging and exciting. The children were divided into groups and each group was given an I-pad. Everyone had to participate to complete the dino maze with the help of the DK team members. The game was about creating the fossil structure of the dinosaur. Just before they began the game, kids learnt how scientists accumulated various parts like bones and skulls, of a single dinosaur by digging the ground. They also learnt how types of soils acted as indicators for the types of skin. Kids learnt about the scary Tyrannosaurus, the leaf-eating Barosaurus, the riverside dinosaur – Triceratops, and other kinds like Allosaurus.

Dino Mania

Dino Mania

The final activity was making one’s own dinosaur with clay. It was a group activity as well. Some groups made many small clay models while others came up with one slightly bigger clay dinosaur model, collectively. A small discussion about their extinction was held. Volcanic eruption, earthquake, and sudden arrival of a meteor from the space – all these factors led to their extinction. Some kids wondered how humans survived this severity. Kingshuk explained that due to their insignificant sizes, perhaps the humans managed to hide somewhere but these poor, huge creatures had no place to hide.

At the end of the session, each child received a small book about dinosaurs and dinosaur-shaped chocolates. They also got books in DK’s Wow series – Earth, Space, Animals. There were fun elements like the dinosaur badge and the dinosaur bands to give them the feeling of belonging to a common dinosaur club. The best part was the joy that the children derived by getting their portraits clicked along with the dinosaur poster that was hung on the wall.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Bookaroo-DPL Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain is supported by mycity4kids and DK India.

Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain with Bharti Bedi of DK India was truly enjoyable. On the 15th day of the workshop amidst the terrible summer heat, the DK Group had some really interesting games, puzzles and activities that put a spell on the children.

Today’s session was about the brain, getting to learn about the nervous system avoiding the mundane textbook approach. There was a brief warm up where the kids were asked to jump and clap. After two minutes, they were told that the brain controls these actions. The next question was how is this important organ protected? Skull and brain fluids help the brain from breaking, Bharti and her team explained.

Work and play

Work and play

Children learnt about the parts of brain – Cerebrum, Cerebellum, Spinal Cord and Brain Stem. The kids were divided into four groups. Each group learnt the role of each of these parts. The Cerebrum, they learnt, helps in the process of thinking, moving and feeling. Cerebellum primarily controls the balance and movement. Brain Stem assists in breathing and finally the Spinal cord sends all the signals from the brain to other parts of the body.

It was a fun exercise for the kids. Next, they learnt about the left and right side of the brain. Children discovered that those with a more active left brain (specializing in Mathematics and Reasoning) wrote with their right hand and those with a more active right brain (specializing in Music and Arts) wrote with their left. After this, the children formed neuron chains by holding hands. They were shown how to act out the signals that are passed around though the neuron chain. They also learnt about the five senses – touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste.

Children were given some images with optical illusions to make them aware of the tricks that one’s brain plays. They had to decipher whether the lines were straight or parallel in one image, where both were actually correct answers. They also had to catch a moving black dot and decide if a given image was titling or not. Reflex actions were demonstrated by surprising the kids. Closed bottles filled with water were directed at them and naturally each time they thought that water was being thrown at them. This is reflex, explained Bharti and her team.

A simple question ‘what did you eat yesterday?’ triggered off a flood of replies. ‘Bhindi’ was a common favorite, it was discovered. The concept of memory, both short term and long term were discussed next. Repeated practice makes a good memory. Children were reminded about VIBJYOR. They were also asked about the oceans and PAISA became the keyword to remember all the names of the ocean. A memory game was played as well. Children soon learnt about the importance of making lists of things they should remember and trying to recall them using the method of association. They even received homework.

Finally, there was a small talk about the importance of sleep and how one’s body clock determines one’s action. Preparation should always be well organized and rehearsed as tasks get more difficult when deadlines crop up. All the children were showered with a plethora of gifts. Not only did each one receive a writing pad and a pen, they got a Rubik’s Cube as prize if they completed the puzzle given at the end of the given writing pad. They also received books on space, animals and science.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Bookaroo-DPL Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain is supported by mycity4kids and DK India.

Today’s session, Titli Udi, with Jitendra Thakur was a little bit of everything rolled into one. There was storytelling, artwork and colouring. In the beginning, he formed a huge circle and sat with the children.

Jitendra initiated the session by engaging the kids in small conversations about their school days, vacation plans and so on. One topic led to another and they found themselves discussing gardens, trees, plants, flowers, butterflies, birds and bees. He asked the children, ‘why do the butterflies come to the garden?’

Many responses came up. Children told him that butterflies come when the flowers bloom, they also come to drink nectar – for lunch and dinner. While on this topic, one child shared her experience of scaring away a butterfly with badminton racket once. Another child told that not only had she seen butterflies the day before but bats too! Children learnt that butterflies are harmless creatures.

Butterfly Flutter: Jitendra Thakur with the gang

Butterfly Flutter: Jitendra Thakur with the gang

‘Why are libraries useful?’ he asked. Children told him that libraries are the only places where different kinds of books are available – books about ‘bhaloo’, ‘machhli’, ‘haathi’. Some children described the kind of butterflies they had seen. After listening to their beautiful narratives, Jitendra opened the book ‘Butterfly Butterfly’ by Petr Horacek the UK-based illustrator of picture books.

The book had lovely illustrations alongside texts. Jitendra not only read out the story but also took time to point out nuances in the illustration. He kept encouraging the children to observe the little details. The story was a simple one about a girl named Lucy. She had a great day playing with a butterfly one day but the next day she found spiders (weaving nets), beetles, and snails (orange-blue in color), dragonflies and blue colored bees instead. Tired of searching for her pretty friend, she lay down on the cool green grass and suddenly out of nowhere, up sprang the happy butterfly. In the book, the effect of the flying butterfly looked amazing. That was, in fact, the turning point of the workshop.

It was time for children to learn the art of making flying butterflies. Jitendra demonstrated how to fold the papers lightly to discover the centre point. He then instructed them to cut it halfway and asked them to do the same thing with the other half given to them. The interesting point was to show them how to interlock the two papers and then tape them carefully so as get the structure in place.

On the white board, he sketched out the outline of the butterfly and how it was to be done on the given sheets of paper. Jitendra made sure that each child had the process well versed. He was helping them out at every stage. Some parents chose to volunteer as well. Children however, preferred doing it on their own.

After a series of diligent trials, the flying butterflies were ready. But butterflies need to be bright and colourful, they need to be coloured. The children took to colouring their creations enthusiastically. Dots, lines, circles, stripes, and various other patterns donned the white butterflies. They were finally coloured in multiple shades like red, orange, blue, magenta, yellow. The big, bright and beautiful butterflies were now ready to fly.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Bookaroo-DPL Kitabein Kuch Kehti Hain is supported by mycity4kids and DK India.