Talk about child development and everyone would agree one vital contributor to healthy brian development would be ‘reading.’
As an essential foundation for healthy cognitive development, reading takes a prime place of importance- right beside talking and singing, as a stimulant for brain growth in the early years of a child’s life. When a child is taught to read, links among brain cells are newly formed and existing ones strengthened.
All talk and literature about reading as an essential skill are now dominated by how screen-time is hijacking all the pleasures of reading, Sure, that’s a valid concern, but for the millions of children in poverty, endless distractions through screentime are not the culprit- the complete lack of opportunities is. While learning through reading might be a fairly inaccessible tool for many, leveraging the versatility of storytelling for learning . is a foolproof and versatile approach for learning.
Katha India had leveraged exactly this medium of learning for the last 3 decades. Through the ambitious ‘I Love Reading’ series, Katha has embarked on an ambitious project of bringing reading skills slowly and steadily to the millions of poor children in India through it’s unique ‘Story Pedagogy’ approach.
Here is a brief review of Katha’s ‘I Love Reading‘ Series:
by Geeta Dharmarajan
Publisher – Katha Books
Flying High is an inspirational story of the American astronaut and the United States Navy Officer, Sunita Williams. The book not only enumerates the achievements of Sunita Williams as an astronaut but throws light on her journey to become one, taking us through the passion and journey of a little girl who dreamt of flying in the sky and fulfilled this dream.
The book is versatile because it talks about the achievements of Sunita Williams, about fulfilling one’s dreams despite obstacles and opens up children to the mysteries of space. Towards the end of the book, there are activities that enable children to think about their dream and the steps taken towards it, more importantly, to reflect on the traits needed to fulfill that dream.
Sonam’s Ladakh by Manish Lakhani
Sonam’s Ladakh is a sneak peek into the daily life of the residents of Ladakh through the lens of photographer Manish Lakhani. The pictures capture the true essence of Ladakh in all its glory right from the native people’s daily routines to the exotic animals and unusual landscapes. Woven around them all is a story about a regular day in Ladakh, giving us a vicarious immersive experience.
The book throws light on the lifestyle of the semi-nomadic tribe, Changpas. It also lists down the ill-effects of global warming and the melting glaciers in Ladakh, its effect on the people and animals and how we can take responsibility for it.
Author – Sayed Haider Raza
This book is an autobiographical account of an award-winning Indian painter, Sayed Haider Raza, his autobiography for all young painters. A painter who lived and worked in France most of his life, Raza never let his strong connection to India slacken. His art was inspired by nature and the five elements.
The book presents interesting anecdotes from his life- like the time he came to understand the importance of focus after an encounter with a teacher and a dot on a wall.
The book consists of beautiful paintings of Sayed Haider Raza along with his life story. The paintings are an amazing play of colors, geometric patterns, interplaying with the five elements of Nature.
The book also gives insights on bringing alive the hidden artist within us through curiosity and visualization. Raza’s autobiography can be an inspiration for children to find their calling and work towards it.
Author – Michio Mado and Oscar Blumner
Why Always? is a book filled with beautiful and thought-provoking paintings of the sun, the moon, the stars, the rain, the wind, the rainbow and the echoes in the mountains which ask a very simple yet powerful question. Why is Nature always new, despite being the oldest on this earth?
This book is sure to make one wonder why Nature keeps changing. It makes us think why we never tire of it even though it is the oldest thing we know! It also makes one ponder over a million-dollar question that despite Nature being so selfless in giving us everything, what does it receive from us, humans?
Author – Norbert Rosing, Ruskin Bond & David Stribbling and Geeta Dharmarajan
This is a book full of astonishing facts about the migration of different birds and animals across the world from colder to warmer regions and vice versa. It begins with two friends looking at a Pat of Flamingos flying across the sky, and thus begins their exploration of the journey of birds across great skies.
The book talks about Green Turtles of Brazil (whose migration across great distances is a wonder unto itself!), humpback whales, Monarch butterflies, Zebras and Gazelles and many more.
This book is a must-read to know some startling facts about migration amongst birds and animals. The book is a starting point for many more conversations and fact-finding exercises with regard to migration. It also lays emphasis on the fact that human beings have interfered extensively with the natural habitats of these creatures rendering it difficult for them to migrate and survive which is very natural to their existence. The best part about the book is that it not only focuses on the problems posed but also gives simple solutions that can be implemented very easily.
Polar Bear by Norbert Rosing
The author of the book is a photographer and has clicked some amazing pictures of the entire incident that has been narrated in the book. The incident happened a few years ago when Norbert was in the icy wilds of Canada with his dogs. Suddenly they saw a big polar bear in front of them. The dogs, as well as Norbert, were frightened. But something very unusual happened.
After knowing the incident, it is even more heartbreaking to know that climatic changes are affecting the polar bear population driving them to extinction through starvation. This adorable tale of friendship, the real-life pictures and factual data regarding this bear species will help children ponder over the problems and the solutions around global warming.
by Ruskin Bond & David Stribbling
The book is sure to set curiosity among children about why tigers are endangered and the programs launched to protect them. The life-like paintings of tigers in the forest and the descriptions by Ruskin Bond make it a thought-provoking read.