Storytelling will never be a lost art.
It seems an inextricable part of being human to form narratives out of things, whether it’s an actual event, the way we process a piece of art, the way an object is designed, or even the way we think of our past actions and future plans. It’s the reason why developing imagination and spontaneity is so important for children, and rediscovering the ability to imagine frees even adults of what they believe they are capable of.
Literature is still one of the most popular ways to share what we imagine. Like all art, it is highly subjective, and means something a little different for everyone. However, whether it is a popular work with a linear plot (say, Harry Potter) or an experimental work that plays with our assumptions (Ulysses)– almost everyone judges a piece of writing by the quality of the storytelling. The barometer for that quality for most people is how it makes us feel and what it makes us think.
A well-written book can give you a lot more than book knowledge—it can show you the inside of another mind, and even another life. It can give you exposure that you can’t easily get otherwise. It can inspire you to try things, and to pursue discovery and invention. Reading comprehension is something underprivileged children in India sorely need.
So, after the success of the Run to Read Marathon, we thought we’d organize a proper literature fest this year for the Mumbai kids, the first of many more to come.
Four hundred and fifty children from the slum communities of Chaitanya Nagar, Gautam Nagar, Indira Nagar, Milind Nagar and Phule Nagar of Powai, and at least a thousand children from VIDYA programs from municipal schools across Mumbai participated in the event.
Inaugrated by a braille reading by the National Association for the Blind, and headed by authors, illustrators, poets, singers (and grandmothers!), the festival got kids to create whole stories starting with a single word, poems and rhymes set to music, small skits to enact, and creative endings to tales. It was a multilingual festival, with authors and children sharing stories in English Marathi, Hindi and Urdu. The teachers’ panel, with the distinguished educationists Beena Choksi and Neelima Naik, was a fun and productive event, where we discussed strategies to encourage reading and make books more easily available. With online stories, PPTs by the authors and an introduction to e-book readers like the Kindle, the kids learned first-hand how books are created, edited and published.
Every kid left the fest convinced that they could do it, too.
.. and we think they can!
We’d like to thank the following people for making this such an amazing, inspiring event-
Authors and illustrators and Publishers: Uday Mane, Vinitha Ramchandani, Nina Sabhnani, Sarda Mohan, Jayanti Mahalingam, Sampurna Murti ( Pratham), Parinita Shetty, Sarita Shetty and Katie Bagli.
Readers and Narrators: Students of the NAB who read in Braille, Vasudha Madhavan, Nilima Nagarkar, Vinod Philip, Archana Gavit, Prashant S, Saira Shah, Sonal Gupta, Ruchi Mahasane, Deepa Badekar, Nehal Parekh and Pallavi Singhal.
Educationists: Beena Choksi and Neelima Naik.
Poets and Songsters: Smita Vyas and David Williamson.