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The Librarians Meet 2023 Highlights the Significance of Reading

Dive into the vibrant world of Indian children's literature at Librarians Meet 2023, featuring workshops, storytelling, and insights from renowned authors. Discover the joy of reading with this enriching event!
on Dec 13, 2023
The Librarians Meet 2023 Highlights the Significance of Reading | Frontlist

The three-day event, presented by Storyteller Bookstore and Penguin Random House India, included children's literature authors.

The third round of The Librarians Meet, hosted by Storyteller Bookstore in cooperation with Penguin Random House India, was welcomed with wide arms by librarians and authors alike after a three-year break due to Covid-19. Between December 6 and 8, librarians from around India gathered with prominent figures in Indian children's literature such as Devdutt Pattanaik, Geeta Ramanujam, Lavanya Karthik, Bijal Vachharajani, and Deepak Dalal.

The writers held special workshops with pupils of all ages on days one and three at Mahadevi Birla World Academy and The Heritage School, respectively, while day two was primarily focused on librarian upskilling at the Storyteller Bookstore at VIP Bazar. "It is critical that we rekindle the reading habit in schoolchildren, especially after lockdown, where they have become accustomed to screen time." What better way to do so than to have a librarians' meeting to motivate and empower librarians to advance reading... "The goal of the meet was to introduce librarians to the wonderful world of Indian children's literature published by Penguin Random House India," stated Mayura Misra, owner of Storyteller Bookstore.

'Librarians are an important element of a child's intellectual development.'

On December 6, students at Mahadevi Birla World Academy got the opportunity to meet with some of their favourite authors: Karthik and Vachharajani spoke with children in classes three and four, while Dalal spoke with students in classes six through eight. The writers spoke to the students about their own work (on a variety of topics ranging from climate change to India's diverse fauna) as well as the students' reading habits before signing books for the young readers. Ramanujam was visiting The Heritage School on the same day, conducting an interactive storytelling session to pupils in grades four and five.

Day two of The Librarians Meet focused on those who serve as a link between authors and readers - librarians. The day opened with a keynote lecture by Pattanaik, who encouraged librarians to encourage youngsters to gain information for the sake of self-enrichment rather than for the sake of achieving something else. Pattanaik pointed out that librarians are "a crucial part of a child's intellectual growth, who should guide kids towards Saraswati (meaning knowledge) without having the ulterior motive of gaining Durga (meaning power) or Lakshmi (meaning wealth)" . He also discussed why stories are important: "Science can tell you how you were born or how you die. It cannot, however, tell you why you were born or what occurs after you die. No science can explain this to you, which is why you need stories.”

Ramanujam's interactive storytelling session followed Pattanaik's talk. She discussed the techniques and tricks that librarians may use to make storytelling sessions more engaging for children. Instead of simply reading the stories, Ramanujam suggests that librarians act out sections of them and involve children in the narrative process to get them more involved in storytelling.

'Indian stories go beyond what is taught in textbooks to teach children more about their nation.'

Following that was a panel discussion hosted by Vishes Kothari on the role of librarians in providing multicultural stories to young readers, with Karthik, Vachharajani, and Deepak Dalal presenting their perspectives. Kothari established the context by discussing the need of translating various novels into English in order to provide more variety on the bookshelf for children. Vachharajani went on to say that "it's pertinent to expose children to Indian works of literature to educate them about the diversity of the Indian landscape, including a variety of real-world topics" . "Indian stories are a way of teaching kids more about their country beyond what's present in their prescribed educational curriculum," Dalal added.

On the final day of the event, December 8, Pattanaik, Karthik, Vachharajani, and Dalal spoke to students from classes three to nine at The Heritage School about their respective books and the various stories they have worked on, ranging from mythology to climate change to the flora and fauna of India.

Guests express themselves

Meets like these are extremely important because, after parents, librarians are the next point of contact for children in terms of building reading skills and the love for reading. We were here to talk about how, as educators, we can bring this love naturally to children without turning reading into a forced activity. We want to pass on the passion for reading to the children so that they can experience the magic of different worlds for themselves. Reading should be about pleasure and not about anything else

  • Lavanya Karthik, author and illustrator

The most important teacher in a school is the librarian because they open doors to different worlds, people, cultures, and all kinds of experiences for the kids. Matching the right book with the right reader is not an easy job. Parents and librarians should make greater efforts to get their children to read more. They need to sit with the kids and make it a habit to read or look at picture books everyday, even if it’s for a short time

  • Deepak Dalal, author

Books offer children a safe space to understand what’s happening around the world, especially in times when climate change is a real threat, wars are going on, and we’re still battling inequality. Books allow children to step into the shoes of different people and understand them better, which helps build empathy

Bijal Vachharajani, author

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