Stories are central to the work I do with my children. I tell, listen to, feel, perform, sing and dance stories in my class. My relationship with the story-book/ the story-text however usually alters with each group I work in. With my younger students (ages 6-8) the story-book does not really play a dominant role. The verbal and physical elements of expression are more central than reading, interpreting and living with the text.
However, in the last parent teacher meeting I had, a large majority of parents (of children of ages 6-8) insisted that their children didn’t like story-books and reading. Now, I find such claims very hard to believe, but the parents persisted.
Since then, I have decided to read one book per class, which is once every week. Some interesting experiences from the Bindi Su class…
As we read the book and after we were done, the children and I were constantly talking about why Bindi Su wouldn’t stop… And in all the things the children said, one thing struck me strongly. They did not even once talk about Bindi Su as a thing. Bindi was never an it. They called her “she” and then they called him “he,” and they said many things about what Bindi Su felt and thought. In all their narrative about Bindi Su, my children attributed the car with head and heart, intelligence, emotion and agency. Not one mechanical reason came up as the possible cause of constant movement. Interesting, no? I wonder if the writer/s intended to create this effect.
As an offshoot of this observation, since the possibility of the car being a “thing” had not been raised at all, I asked my students, if they thought Bindi Su was a boy or a girl… Some said girl, some boy. Reasons –
Girl – Because of her eyelashes. Only girls have such long pretty eyelashes.
Girl – Because she wears a Bindi.
Girl – Because of the designs on her.
Boy – Because only boys drive so fast.
Boy – Because only boys keep going non-stop.
Boy – Because boys are not scared of snakes.
It was a fun class, with a fun reading. I am sure my kids love story-books and their parents need to figure a way to explore the magic with their children. I intend going back to Bindi Su for the illustrations and the riot of colours next.
Written by Meghna Gandhi – I work in Education, engaging with drama, communications and language teaching. I enjoy working with children and stories. I love the sea.