We drove past colorful houses of blue and yellow and green, and mango orchards. The road snaked past sheds of local craftsmen, far and away from the hustle and bustle of Panjim. Bookworm was invited this time to hold the bookfair at Mandrem, the sleepy little village in the north of Goa. The principal Mr. Ramdas Kelkar, has invited Bookworm to Sapteshwar Higher Secondary School, for a Super School Complex Meeting. This meant that we would meet with and talk to at least 20 odd HMs and or teachers of a group of schools in the Taluka. The campus was situated in an oasis of tranquil and luminously green hills that swelled into the distance.
The bookworm team was welcomed with a charming blend of formal and informal where we were presented with red roses, batatawada and cooling lassi.
However the session was somewhat disappointing in terms of curiosity and responsiveness from the audience. Although they listened to the story attentively, they did not really venture to browse through the books we had brought with us. As always, Sujata attempted to bring about an atmosphere of discourse and discussion by throwing the ball in the audience’s court by asking them to ask five questions about Bookworm reading or anything at all. And though it’s hard to associate the buzz of technology with Mandrem, a few brave ones took a stab by asking about the place for reading in a world full of technological distractions and gizmos. It is important to stress that through electronic devices may be replacing print more than ever, the significance of literacy is as important as ever. Another asked the age old question “so how does a child start reading”? Such questions although not new for those that work with children and children’s books have to be continuously played with to even begin to reach books to different sorts of people.
We read out The Gift from the Sea by Sandhya Rao which was kickstarted by a word association game using Mandrem. They were also asked what they though the word gift might mean and it was interesting to see the more economic connotation that the word gift had for many.
The audience listened and seemed attentive and one hopes that at least a new thought or idea about the dimension of reading was sprung at the workshop. The principal of Our Lady of Rosary School, Mandrem briefly shared how Bookworm’s school book treasury program enables books in the classroom and how children from grades 5 – 8 have begun to look at , read, talk about books because of both the access through Bookworm and the school making books and reading an important component of the day.
Although it was a bit disheartening that not a single book was bought, or even a book actively read at the browsing time, Niju wisely said “ well at least twenty five more people knew about our work “- which is indeed true !
Each time I come away from these book fairs I feel that talking about books might strike a chord somewhere and we can await a chorus!