It’s every child’s right to get access to books and it’s our job to make it accessible to them and instill the importance of reading. To this, a lot of people might say that the culture of reading books has been replaced by an addiction to video games. But the question here is are we encouraging our children enough to read the book? Are we introducing this habit and encouraging it through discussions with our children around the books they read?
When we started working with students of Dalla village in Sonbhadra district, the teachers had a different question for us – these students had their own curriculum to follow and textbooks to read; why then, were we trying to get them to start reading story books?
We knew that the issue was of access. These children wouldn’t read as much or rather reading wasn’t considered an important part of nurturing them because there simply were no books available for them to read. We started taking a few storybooks to school and discussed stories and the pictures in them with students. It was interesting to also learn their personal stories and understand the students at a deeper level. After a while, all of us were on the same page.
We chose Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday to organize books meal for our students. We had a showcase of books for children in classes 1 to 5. The objective of this Mela was to fascinate students with the idea of reading and transport them to an enjoyable learning space. The purpose was to enable the students to understand, question and imagine situations which occur in their daily life.
Teachers took the backseat while their students read or decided what to read. The session was divided into 2 parts – the first was with students of classes 4 and 5 who were free to choose any book they each wanted to read in any manner they wanted. In the second part of the session, we conducted a storytelling session with students of classes 1 to 3. After an hour, the groups were interchanged.
What we soon realized, to our amazement was that students were disciplined as they began reading. An interesting thing we realized was that students were automatically disciplined. They remained unmoved as they silently, curiously read their stories and made sense of English books through pictures.
Every student had their personal experience of reading at the end of the Mela. We asked students if they wished for some dedicated reading time every day and their excitement to start off on this was a pleasant surprise for us all! Teachers, amazed at how well the students had handled the books without damaging any, showed a lot of interest in inculcating the habit among children and themselves, while also planning to set up a library in their school.
Reading isn’t about knowing letters of the alphabet or spelling words. It’s a beautiful journey that’s so much more than the experiences within the four
I would end by emphasizing that reading is not about knowing alphabets and words, its an entire process and journey which is an amalgamation of a lot of factors.
Written by Kiran Tiwari, Team Upkram, EduMentum Cohort 2019
Founded in 2018, Upkram works towards holistic development of children from marginalized communities in Uttar Pradesh by providing them access to quality education. The organization joined EduMentum’s second cohort in 2018.