Butterfly Smiles in South Delhi

Posted by Menaka Raman on September 01, 2017

Riddhi Dastidar, Outreach Team member shares her experiences from a recent storytelling session at a Teach for India classroom in Delhi.

Recently, I found myself making my way to a grade 7 classroom in South Delhi where a room with brightly colourful walls, filled with little girls with red-ribboned hair, smiling faces, and questions in their shy eyes awaited me. We walked in as Sameera ‘Didi’ was finishing up a lesson. Sameera is a lawyer turned Teach For India Fellow. Teach For India’s vision is that one day all children will attain an excellent education. In 2016, Teach For India impacted students across 353 schools in seven cities across India. 

We were there to share Mathangi Subramanian's 'A Butterfly Smile', a story that follows the journey of little Kavya who has just moved to the big scary city of Bengaluru from her native village where her parents used to be farmers. Now they live near a noisy construction site far from the colours and butterflies of her old home. She decides to venture her knowledge about butterflies on a class-trip to the butterfly garden and in the process begins to find a new sense of belonging.

This story was especially appropriate for a TFI classroom, where the message is always that right outside your comfort zone is where the magic can be found! 

On this day, Mathangi and the children read the story together, and the children filled in facts that they already knew about butterflies. We discussed what it felt like to be new, to move somewhere completely different and what helped them to be brave like Kavya in a tough situation!

We touched upon how butterflies actually come from caterpillars sleeping in big fat coccoons. Much like the cocoons, the girls were bursting to the brim with questions for Mathangi about her life as a writer. They got into groups and decided which of their many questions to ask:

“How long have you been making stories?”

“How do you decide the topics for your books?”

“How do you create your characters?!“

“I wrote my first story when I was five and I published my first book when I was 35 – so it took me 30  years!” Mathangi told them, blowing their minds.

“I like telling stories but it takes a lot of work and patience to become a writer. It comes from watching how people who are different from me live- so with this story, I was walking down a street in Bangalore and noticed some kids playing in a construction site…"

We discussed the research that goes into deciding what to write about and all of the little tiny everyday observations that go into the creation of characters and books. Observation and listening were superpowers the girls were trying to practice in their own lives too.

“It’s sometimes about meeting people, sometimes about reading things- but it’s mostly about seeing everything in the world”, Mathangi shared.

After the session, we said goodbye with many hugs and waves, but the conversation continued.

The girls compared and contrasted their lives and the things that made them brave, as shy 7 year old babies to now as 12 year olds who feel capable of taking care of themselves.  

After Mathangi’s revelations on how being a careful observer played a big role in her life as a writer, the children picked up this thread to talk about where they observed and absorbed things from- from their families and homes to the increasing influence of their peers, teachers and the outside world as they grew up. Some brought up the point that while as a norm, parents want the best for them and were where they got their brave from, sometimes they could be wrong too. Some of the girls brought up the subtle ways in which their gender sometimes felt like a cocoon of the limiting kind instead!

This is the role we hope to play with our STEM books - to get children thinking about science, themselves and their connection to the world around them - and to leave their brains buzzing and the ideas and words flowing- long after we leave the room, or the last page of a book is turned.

You can read A Butterfly Smile in 5 languages on StoryWeaver.

You can see more photos from the session here.

(All opinions expressed here are those of the individual.) 

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Pratham Books is Hiring: Project Assistant

Posted by Menaka Raman on August 29, 2017

At Pratham Books, we believe in the power of stories – good stories. For well over a decade we have strived hard to reach children across India with a variety of award-winning stories across 18 Indian languages. With our digital crowd-sourcing platform – StoryWeaver we now share the power of stories with a global community of educators, parents, authors, illustrators and translators.

StoryWeaver is a digital repository of openly-licensed, multilingual children's stories. It allows its users to read, create and translate stories into Indian and international languages in the hope that children across the world can read quality stories in a language of their choice.

We are looking to scale up content on StoryWeaver and add about 20,000 new stories by December 2019. In order to achieve this target we have several projects starting up and so we are currently, we're looking for a full-time, Project Assistant to join our Digital Team in Bangalore to help keep these projects on track.

As an Project Assistant at StoryWeaver, this is what will keep you busy:

  • Coordinate with  and oversee external vendors to ensure timelines and quality.

  • Maintain databases and project file systems

  • Coordinate with in house team and external vendors on tasks as per objectives

  • Co-ordinating with the administrative team for documentation, records and payments (contracts, work orders, etc)

  • Identifying open repositories/opportunities to bring more stories onto StoryWeaver

  • Support campaigns aimed at improving content and reach of StoryWeaver

Preferred Requirements

  • Degree in Literature/Journalism/Mass Communication/Media /Language

  • Excellent verbal and written communication and organizational skills

  • 1-2 years of work experience; freshers may also apply

  • Ability to multi-task and coordinate between different stakeholders

  • Sharp eye for detail and the ability to work well under pressure

  • Tech-savvy

  • Love for books and languages

  • Be a good team player

Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. Please send your resume to storyweaver@prathambooks.org with 'Project Assistant for StoryWeaver' in the subject line of the email.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Say hello to our new story creation tool!

Posted by Yamini Vijayan on August 21, 2017

When StoryWeaver launched in September 2015, we envisioned the platform as a creative space where the creators and readers of stories could meet. In the last 22 months we’ve been blown away by the creative talent of our community. 

We’re listening

We take feedback seriously and we’ve taken your comments about your StoryWeaver experience on board. We will be rolling out a series of upgrades across the next month, but first up is an all new story creation tool! We’ve added some cool new features, grouped tools together for easier access and made the interface even easier to use.

Watch this quick video tutorial to find out what’s new before heading over to StoryWeaver to create a brand new story on our brand new creator!

Click on the 'create' button at the top of this page to try it for yourself!

Once you’ve created a story we hope you’ll take a minute to fill out the feedback form at the end and tell us what you liked about the new design!

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