PB Champs Session 2: An Update

As promised, we’re back with an update on session 2 of PB Champs. This time we extended Pratham’s mission to include the underprivileged children of Pranjal.img-20160910-wa0018

The date was 10th Sept and the day just like any other Saturday. However, we had a spring in our step because we knew our afternoon would be spent bringing a smile to the faces of  marginalized children. We visited the home Pranjal that is a part of Genesis Foundation. To plan for the session we decided to read to the children in Bangla and downloaded the bangla translation of ‘The Elephant Bird’ from Storyweaver. The tried and tested method of projecting the wordless book again worked well. After the story the children made beautiful, colourful friendship quilts using coloured paper cutouts.

We were excited to see the involvement of the children – 26 boys and girls ranging in age from 5 to 16! What a bright, eager eyed and enthusiastic bunch they were. The session was a huge success thanks to the cooperation of the staff and the management. When it was time to say goodbye and thank you to each other, the children gifted us beautiful handmade greeting cards with the words ‘Thank You’ printed inside!

Actually, we were the ones who were thankful to the children for gifting us an enriching experience.

PS: To know more about Genesis Foundation, click here and to know more about PB Champs, click here. Watch this space for an update on session 3.


PB Champs Session 1: An Update


The PB Champs banner goes up and the storyteller is ready!

Pratham Books is a not-for-profit publisher of children’s books whose mission is give every child access to books and stories. To further this mission they run an annual, India wide initiative – the PB Champions programme – under which they invite storytellers from the length and breadth of the country to run storytelling sessions for children using a book that Pratham chooses for the year.


We at Workshop Studio participated in the 2016 initiative to forward Pratham’s mission through our centre. Though ‘one day, one story’ is Pratham’s motto, we took it a step forward and planned three sessions in Kolkata. The first session was conducted on the 6th of September. Since this is voluntary work for the cause of literacy we invited as many children as we could from the neighbourhood without limiting ourselves to the children enrolled for our weekly classes. The word spread and we were pleasantly surprised to have a turnout of over 25 children!

The session began with a reading of this year’s book ‘The Elephant Bird’ by Arefa Tehsin. Since many children were just 4-5 year olds we used the wordless version of the book to project pictures and read the shorter version of the story. Storyweaver came to our rescue! The story was followed by an activity in which the children worked in pairs. Based on the central theme of the book – friendship and courage – we gave each pair a short scenario and asked them to identify if the characters were displaying the traits of being good friends. The children, we realized, do understand the true value of friendship and were willing to be nice to each other! This is why they all got fun stars with their names on them which they decorated and made into headbands to wear home.

A lovely evening and a feeling of fulfillment were Workshop Studio’s takeaway.

PS: To know about about PB Champs, click here. Also, watch this space to read about updates on sessions 2 and 3.


On Children’s Literature

Storytelling is an art. By storytelling I do not mean the person reading out from a book or an actor on stage. I mean the author and his craft. There’s a reason why people think the way they think and write about what they do and this does not apply merely to individuals but also to cultures, to nations.

I have always wondered why I gravitate towards British children’s literature. Finally I know because I chanced upon this article on the web. It puts many of my thoughts into words as well as answers many of my questions about children’s literature. Go on, enjoy yourself…

Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories



Free CLP Worksheets *Closed*

Workshop Studio’s signature instructional model, Children’s Literacy Programme (CLP), can transform language learning into an interactive experience, helping to expand young children’s vocabulary and encouraging them to retell stories and communicate effectively. Our programme supports language development through picture book and stimulating language activities.

We are sharing a couple of free reading comprehension worksheets for children in the 4-5 age group. This will be available only for 24 hours. Hurry! Download for free!


The Talking Bird – A Short Review

The Talking Bird by Swati Sengupta is a brilliantly exaggerated story of a lady who gets into trouble because of a toy she bought for her child from a pavement hawker. With colourful illustrations to support, the story is simple, fun and quintessentially Indian.

I would like to point out two facets of this beautiful book that spoke to me. The first is the rather accurate image of Kolkata and its primary business district – the Dalhousie Square. The busy-ness of the locality, its traffic, commotion, pavement hawkers spring out of the book to paint a very real picture. Illustrator Sayan Mukherjee sets the tone for the setting in the first page itself by putting a larger than life background illustration of the Kolkata GPO – the iconic colonial building of Dalhousie Square. The politically aware Bengali temperament is also hinted at by a quick reference to the Writer’s building, the seat West Bengal’s political power, and the Chief Minister.


The other highlight of the Talking Bird is Ma. She has no name other than just ‘Ma’. No other social or familial relation is mentioned other than that of her with her little boy Tokai. She is engaged in an activity that will bring a smile to her son’s face – buying a toy for him. The story throws light on what parents are willing to endure just to see their children happy. Ma buys a battery operated bird for two hundred and fifty rupees that she can ill afford and faces a lot of embarrassment and trouble while taking it home to her son by public transport. After the unfortunate bird is seized by a cop Ma buys a new one the following day for her little boy. Her character is unidimensional and being ‘Ma’ is the all-encompassing business of her life while she disregards the tiredness that comes at the end of a long working day faced with a long journey back home by an overcrowded bus.

Therefore, this book is a winner for me on both counts – character and setting, not to mention that it has provided endless hours of reading pleasure to me and my child. While he delighted in the picture of the colourful talking bird, I identified with the sentiment of Ma.


Books and Cultural Sensitivity

Me: How often do you read to your child?

Me: Everyday!

Me: What books do you read?

Me: Oh! Everything from Dr. Seuss to Enid Blyton – books that I choose with loving care.

Me: *Horrified* What? No books by Indian authors or publishers?

Me: *Embarrassed* Yeah, I have some good Indian books too and I do read them aloud sometimes.

Me: Will you make an effort to read books that offer a variety to your child? It is not just about cognitive development or vocabulary building. It is also about cultural sensitivity. Why not read a story about Indian villages? Or about life in Africa? Or about Eskimos? It will be different from the usual English fare but will help sensitize the young mind to different lifestyles and cultures. Isn’t that worth something?

Me: Help! I need a reading list.

Me: Coming up. Watch this space.