Written by Madhurima Bhatt
It is said that there are two ways to share knowledge – either to push the information out to people or you can pull them with a story. Story telling can make the same information seem very interesting. The audience is more connected to it. It is way more impactful than mere sharing of facts. It makes the audience ask questions, discuss and introspect.
For instance, a book could have content like “Do not cut trees because they give you fresh air, food, rainfall etc.” The book may further have an exercise in which students need to tell about the benefit of trees. Another book could have a story about how a young girl has a garden full of plants and trees and would water and nurture them. She would play around the garden, sit under its shadow and eat fruits. It could further have an exercise in which students are asked to discuss and draw things that trees have given them. Both books have the same intent to let the children know about the importance of trees. However, the second book is teaching children to introspect from what they have learned besides making them imagine a child belonging to their age who is enjoying her (his) day at the garden.
A story can increase your faith and belief in things many times over. Stories can make us believe in dreams. How would a child believe in magic if he did not read a book like Harry Potter or Gulliver’s travel? How would a child believe that there is victory of good over evil if he would not know a story like that of Ramayana? How would a child know that fortunes can change if he does not know the story of Oliver Twist or Charlie and the chocolate factory? How would a child know the festival of Christmas can change the most difficult people if (s)he has not read A Christmas carol. How would a young girl believe that she would fall in love if she did not read a book like Pride and Prejudice?
At Katha, we make sure that we design and publish beautiful storybooks that help children understand the standard curriculum while enhancing the joy of reading. No wonder Katha books are adopted by CBSE and NCERT. We believe that child-friendly and joyful reading can spread reading literacy. It is because of this that we publish books in various languages and encourage children to read in the language they can easily understand. Books can make us appreciate one another’s culture. We publish multicultural and vibrant books that sensitize the child to respect different cultures and people.
Besides publishing books, Katha adopts story pedagogy and active story based learning as a teaching methodology at its Katha Lab. Every year teachers from Katha and other organizations receive training from Katha on these teaching methods.Teachers from Melbourne University visited Katha and teamed up with Katha teachers to understand Story Pedagogy as an alternate teaching method.Katha initiated the “I Love Reading” (ILR) programme. Under this programme,Katha works in Municipal schools and surrounding communities and engages them in reading. It uses Katha’s beautifully illustrated and some of the internationally acclaimed story books.
The impact of “story-based pedagogy” on reading has been phenomenal. We have received really good numbers indicating a positive attitude towards reading by children in an external evaluation by Ambedkar University in Delhi. While working with the many stakeholders in the ILR Programmes, not just children but teachers, Principals and Education Directors have appreciated our efforts. Through “story-based pedagogy”, we have reached children who find reading a challenge and have helped foster an environment where reading is as much fun as play. By providing an opportunity to those studying in government schools and those who could not afford a formal education, we are working at the grassroots where quality education is not accessible and books are a scarce resource. Well, in Walt Disney’s words, “That’s what story tellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again.”