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Mobile Outreach Program
Introspecting on St.Inez MOP
August 21, 2013
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I keep returning to St. Inez MOP site and feel renewed that we do a weekly Tuesday session here. The community at St. Inez basti is so supportive. Parents who are sitting outside their homes see us trudging in, blue book boxes in hand and children are admonished to get ready to go to the library. 

That our wee library sits in the small foyer of an  an even smaller temple is symbolic for something. I am still making sense of it all. 

Our library works grows in this community. We had 5 new children clamouring for their registration cards, bags and books to take home. This must mean something.

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There are some regulars and the others were not there because it was Raksha Bandhan but we had a good group, browsing and making selections for the book they would borrow for the week. 

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The selection process continues to fascinate us as we observe young children operate with some discernment that is implicit only to them. We still do not know what they look for, what attracts, what makes one choice superior to the other because the idea of the story alone is not the criteria. This seems to be the criteria of a more mature reader. We see these at the parent house at Bookworm, who come in saying I want a Thomas Story Book or do you have any books on dinosaurs or others who are looking for a book in a series. But at the MOP sites where books, the availability of choice, the literacy tools to ‘read’ these books are still nascent use a different selection process.

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I read Best Friends, a simple story in bi lingual format about a girl and her best friend, a tree. Ronit who is older in class VI was able to predict the story as was Vaishali. They anticipated before I even asked that the tree may be in danger. How do readers begin to do this and when. Many of the younger children have been exposed to an equal number  of story read – alouds as the older children and yet they keep their imaginations wide open, accepting what ever possibility the story will bring. These two older ones were keen to predict, also a powerful reading skill so I keep wondering. What does all this mean. Must keep my own eyes open and my mind equally open as I learn from these children.

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Drawing and representing understanding in images continues to be Bookworm’s strongest tool to literacy. The children await this section of the program. One can see how powerfully they have understood both the intent and the total acceptance from the educators of any representational form. Copying from books which is the most common act on a new site was totally absent. Within moments of material being distributed they began to draw. Each child had to draw a best friend – a tree, like Tamana in the story and their worlds emerged immediately. There were mango, banana, flowering trees. There was a tree for the birds and a banyan tree to swing on and it came organically from the children and their connect with Best Friends. 

As we tidied up, lent books and left the temple, an older lady from the community said “deu borem korum” and as I leave knowing more than I did before I went into the session, I must pause to ask, who should thank whom. 

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