Reading stories over the seas

The children at Central Manor, Pennsylvania, were back on Skype recently. Two students read out stories to me, and we spent some time talking about each others countries. Chris read out a story called ‘If Mom Had Three Arms’. Thank you Chris, for not only reading out the story so nicely, but also holding up each page for me to see on the web cam. Lovely illustrations!

Sometimes as one juggles with a pen in one hand and a book in the other, and a mobile phone wedged between the ear and shoulder, one really wishes there were more hands and arms!

Topanga (ah, what a lovely name!), a 4th grader, read out from the book ‘Milking Machines’ by Hal Rogers. The book tells readers how machines help to get milk from the cow-shed to our kitchens. One thing led to another, and since we at Pratham Books love to tell stories, I told Topanga about Nandini, the mythical wish-granting cow.

A cute little thing sat on Topanga’s shoulder to listen to the story too—a pet rat called Sophie! The school has a pet snake that lives in a class downstairs. Hamsters and guinea pigs too stay on campus. Last year, the school had a service dog that was also trained to work with the handicapped people. Now, isn’t that a really animal-loving school!

The best part about our Skype sessions is the learning that happens on both continents. A quick Net search after my talk with Chris threw up the fact that Karen Kaufman Orloff, the author of ‘If Mom Had…’ is an animal lover whose family includes an iguana named Lizzie and a guinea pig named Toby. Pete Whitehead, the illustrator of her book has been a illustrating for 20 years. A visit to his site shows that he loves to carve wood and eat French fries.
If you like animals, books, French fries or witty illustrations, do drop a comment!



  1. Bri May 5, 2009

    I like animals (not snakes or rats), books, French fries, witty illsutrations, and the wonderful people at Pratham Books!! Thanks for all the wonderful Skyping sessions!! We are learning so much about India and ourselves. Topanga was still excitedly speaking about this skype session today!

  2. Pete May 6, 2009

    What a great use of skype and the internet! And thank you for reading the book I drew for Karen Kaufman Orloff. What a great program to let kids meet and learn about new people and cultures and to find out how similar we all are, no matter where we call home! My family is originally from Reading, Pa, just a little ways north east from Center Manor. I love the area and miss visiting there and all the wonderful Pennsylvania Dutch food!
    Keep up the good work and thanks again for picking my book!

    Pete Whitehead

  3. It was great to hear that you enjoyed our stories we read! The students loved chatting with you and were so excited to see that you took the time to write about the chat session! It was also very exciting to hear from Pete, you are a wonderful illustrator! We look forward to reading and talking to you again!

  4. Mala May 8, 2009


    Thanks a lot for dropping by and posting a comment. We are a small not-for-profit organization in Bangalore, India, but we have big dreams, of seeing every child in India reading and reading happily. With technology like Skype, it’s great that we are able to reach out to the children of the world too.

    If you ever feel like illustrating an Indian story for kids, you know whom to get in touch with!

    And hey kids of Miss Klube’s class, we’re waiting to here you read out more stories!

  5. Annur Ane June 7, 2015

    Thanks for this nice story.But I like to inform you that if any one want to learn french via skype then please check out the following link. http://preply.com/en/french-by-skype
    They provide online tutor , i take their service & i'm satisfied.


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