Written by Margaret
Developing a relationship with books and eventually coming to love them , is what we try to encourage in schools. As the saying goes ” give a man a fish and you feed him for a day but teach him to fish and he has food for life“. I first heard about Bookworm last year, when Isa (my neighbour then) told me about the programme in Aldona schools “Come and see” she said. Later at the Aldona Jumble Sale, I met a few of the volunteers and Mrs Sujata Noronha, who heads this initiative. Bookworm, a Charitable trust where volunteers read aloud stories to kids, ask and answer questions, lead kids in games and activities related to the story and best of all give them books to take home.
A few days later at the St Thomas Girls Primary School, I observed a few of the team associated with the programme. At recess , as soon as the red Bookworm van turned into the gates of the school, the children stopped whatever they were doing and came rushing up chorusing “Good day teacher” The little ones were asking “Are you coming to our class first teacher?” The enthusiasm with which these girls welcomed these library teachers was exciting. In class, they selected their name cards and put it in the book they were returning and got ready to play the game or sing the song which the library teacher leads. A few questions from the teacher, to get the story into context and the read aloud began with their full attention. The big books with the blown up pictures and writing, that can be seen by all, sets their imagination racing. They ask their questions after the reading and activity books are distributed. All set upon the activity happily sometimes with the distribution of pencils, colours, gum and a bit of help with spelling. Then best of all the lending: in order the kids go and select the book of their choice and wait for it to be registered. At the end of the class, a loud chorus “Thank you teacher”.
In July,I joined Bookworm. Working in St Thomas Girls and Boys primary schools and Std V in St Thomas Boys High school and Auxilium School Carona. The interaction of the volunteers and kids tickles the interest in books in young kids and helps older ones develop their understanding, writing and artistic skills. Seeing the joy on the faces of these children, when they can choose a book for themselves , the care they take of the book they’ve borrowed and the fact that they are trusted to take a book home; gives me a good feeling. Children coming from poor or even middle class homes rarely, if at all have access to story books. The service provided by Bookworm opens their eyes to whole new worlds and ideas. In the classroom, children who were very quiet would after a few sessions lose their inhibitions and become more interactive. Some parents tell me that their children had become more responsible in their work and that they would make sure that they read their library books.
The academic year is about to end and we have stopped lending books. And children are asking us “Teacher will you come next year?”
We do not know yet. Next year will tell!