Pratham Books Champion : Rashmie Jaaju

24th September was a very special day for all of us at Pratham Books. We managed to create a book in 4 languages in 2 days. But, we also had many friends from within our community volunteer to become a ‘Pratham Books Champion‘ and conduct storytelling sessions in their neighbourhoods. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.
Today’s story comes from Rashmie Jaaju who conducted a storytelling session in Delhi. Rashmie is passionate about creative learning for children. She believes in creating open-ended opportunities to nurture their love for art, reading, writing and to keep their curiosity intact. She thinks that learning does not have to be desk-oriented or through pre-planned lessons for our kids. Learning happens in everyday life – in nature; in the kitchen; near the washing machine; when toying with a camera; when writing down mommy’s grocery list and in a dozen other places that we least appreciate.  Rashmie says, “We as parents and educators just have to tap those opportunities and moments and more than that – we have to tap their curiosity and imagination. That is – we only have to tap and not drive. It will be driven to its destination by the child herself.”
Other than being an ardent homeschooling mom to her lovely 6-year old daughter, she writes fondly about – Holistic Living, Conscious Traveling, Natural Health and Healing, Art & DIY and Photography. She blogs at Mommy Labs and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Rashmie wrote about the storytelling session she conducted on her blog
Doing art in a group can be so much fun and rejuvenating, we experienced this past Saturday. It was a perfect setting for Pari and her girls gang to explore a new dimension to their friendship, as they sat around our dinner table giving shape and colours to their imagination.
Their being together was further enriched when I did a storytelling session after the art activity. The inspiration for this came from my friends at Pratham Books. When they invited me to champion their endeavour to spread the joy of reading, I couldn’t say no knowing how much fun this will be for the girls. Besides, I immediately saw this as an extension to an artful afternoon with Pari and her friends.
If you don’t know about Pratham Books; they are a non-for-profit organization that publishes storybooks for children at affordable prices, in multiple Indian languages, including English.
This initiative of Pratham Books was to celebrate International Girl Child’s Day that was on Sept. 24, Saturday. For this, they created an illustrated storybook in 4 languages, in just 2 days – by an all-women team. Once the storybook was done, they nominated people from around the world as “champions” to spread the joy of reading. We, the champions, were e-mailed PDF version of the book to conduct storytelling sessions in our cities – based on their book. You can download the ‘Upside-Down’ story over here in any of the four languages – English, Hindi, Marathi or Kannada. It’s free and it’s lot of fun.
I decided to display the story on our big flat screen TV. The PDF format is not compatibe with TV. So, my hubby helped by taking pictures of each page of the PDF file (while it was open on my laptop) with his mobile. We then connected the mobile to the TV. The big interface made the viewing really pleasant.
Since their story is based on a little girl’s imagination of an upside-down world, we based our own art session on the same theme.
We first brainstormed (and laughed like mad!) the various scenarios of a topsy turvy or ‘Ulta Pulta’ (in Hindi) world. The kids came up with hilarious ideas, which you can see interpreted in their artwork too.
  • An animal taking a man for a stroll
  • A fish fishing out a human being
  • Flying cars, somersaulting birds
  • Upside down trees so the kids can pick their fruits at ground level
  • Kids doing hand-stands in the air
The three hours flied past in a jiffy. This little girl, named Aroo, never wanted to go back home!
During storytelling, there’s a scene (from the book) where a magical transformation is shown using the words – Abra Ka Dabra, Gili Gili, Gilli Gillii, Jumba. At this point, I asked them one by one and then – all together – to yell out this mumbo-jumbo to evoke their magical powers and turn me upside down.
It was a only a matter of few moments of hesitation before the air was exploding with their full-throated echo. And, my lack of exercise that morning was more than compensated with the much vigorous bodily shaking and drama to ultimately turn upside down.
On the one hand, the kids almost believed that they had acquired magical powers. And, on the other, they were themselves rolling with laughter at the sight of this otherwise sober adult monkeying around like crazy. The hubby, who was clicking all this while, gave up finally as there was no way he could have focused and captured this earth-shattering show! Phew..!
Only when the phone started ringing with parents wanting to know what’s going on, did we realize it’s time to disperse.
But, we’re meeting again – and soon. I think it’ll be a great idea to have this gang of girls meet often to indule in such pure artful fun combined with storytelling. May be even a few dance moves (gimme a chance to dance, baby)!
Thank you Rashmie for spreading the joy of reading!
Click here to read the stories sent in by all the Pratham Books Champions.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting ‘a book in every child’s hand’, write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.


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