Now ‘Reading is a Pleasure’ for Class I, II students

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Now ‘Reading is a Pleasure’ for Class I, II students

Class I and II students of all the government and aided schools in the State are in for a pleasant surprise this June.

A team of teachers has been working nearly all summer, developing supplementary and graded reading material for these children.

An initiative of the State’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) wing, the project is aimed at making interesting reading material in Tamil available to children, in their classrooms.

The project falls in line with the NCERT’s idea of setting up reading cells for children, to enthuse them into reading for pleasure.

Though the idea itself is about a year old, officials took time, looking at various options while trying to decide who should develop the content for these small books.

“If we had decided to rope in publishing houses or writers, it would have meant getting into the tedious task of floating tenders and so on.it was only then that it struck us why not involve our own teachers,” SSA’s State Project Director M.P. Vijayakumar said.

And when the idea was mooted to government school teachers, the response was overwhelming. The primary resource persons V. Geetha of Tara Publishing and Salai Selvam, who runs a children’s library in Madurai, trained about 60 teachers in developing child-friendly content.

These teachers, in turn, trained several others and soon, the SSA office was flooded with little stories, poems and riddles penned by teachers.

Culture of picture books

“Through this initiative, the SSA here has pioneered the culture of picture books in Tamil for children.

The interaction with teachers inverted the idea of a government school teacher. Their creativity and ability to relate the child has been amazing,” Ms. Geetha said.

“We have consciously avoiding dunning morals through these stories. The values are subtle and implicit.

The books are meant to reflect the experience of childhood itself, in a language that the child recognises easily and relates to instantly,” Ms. Selvam said.

The teachers have been encouraged to use familiar cultural contexts, local idioms and conversational Tamil including different dialects, to make sure that the book becomes intimate to the child.

Moreover, till now, children’s literature has largely represented urban culture. This attempt would offer a small town, rural perspective of Tamil Nadu, the recourse persons said.

Teachers’ contribution

Hence, teachers have explored topics ranging from a betel leaf that aspires to turn red in colour, to a Brinjal that takes a walk.

And now, nearly 50 titles in fantasy and fiction are in production, with drawing teachers from government schools lending their expertise by drawing visuals for the content their colleagues have developed.

In fact, a few of them who are not drawing teachers but have an interest to draw, have also volunteered to contribute.

Some of these illustrators came to the SSA office on Tuesday. With palettes, paints and brushes on all sides, they indulged in what seemed like their most exciting pastime this summer.

R. Balasubramanian, art teacher at a government school in Surulipatti (Theni district), said it was an enjoyable experience to develop content for school children.

R. Gopinath, a primary school teacher in Gudiyatham (Vellore), said: “I’m just a primary teacher. But I love drawing and painting. And since I interact with children everyday, I know how they see the world.

And this opportunity is something teachers like us have been yearning for.”

Nargis Rathina Rani, an art teacher from Ramanathapuram, is excited by the thought of seeing a child read a book that has her illustrations.

Along with this, the SSA is also working on graded readers for children who know a few letters and words.

They asked children to list out words they know and built around these words, starting with simple sentences and gradually building complexity.

Unicef Project Officer Aruna Rathnam and government school teacher Madhavan are the primary resource persons.