Coronavirus lockdown: It’s storytime for kids

Ambika Shaligram
Monday, 30 March 2020

Starting today, every Monday, watch Indian authors sharing stories and lot more with their young readers

This is some good news for all those parents who are at their wit’s end wondering how to keep their kids engaged. Penguin and Momspresso are launching an online initiative called #OnceUponABookWithPenguin starting today (March 30).

Every evening from Monday (until the lockdown ends), the kids can listen to stories from India’s best children’s authors including Paro Anand, Ruskin Bond, Lubaina Bandukwala and others. One author will go live at 6.30 pm on Momspresso, a blogging platform, which has parenting videos and blogs from mommy bloggers and experts.

The intention behind #OnceUponABookWithPenguin is to make playtime fun for kids even if they are indoors. Hence the focus will be on animated storytelling/reading. It will also give the young one's activities to do after every storytelling session (www.facebook.com/momspresso).

Sakal Times spoke to two authors, who will be discussing stories and ideas on two very pertinent topics – first, there is nothing to be ashamed about expressing the fact that you need to pee; secondly, you should always find a way to do what you like in life.

Here’s more from the authors -- Neha Singh and Nandini Nayar…

Let's talk
Theatre artist-director Neha Singh was once travelling on a bus. It was a 17-hour long journey, and you can imagine how difficult it would have been for her not to be able to relieve herself. She requested the driver to stop the bus; he didn’t. They argued, and when he finally stopped the bus, it was in the middle of nowhere.

“It was quite scary, it was dark, but I had to pee,” says Singh.

After boarding the bus, I realised how sensitive the topic was and how universal too.

“I decided that I had to write a book. I realised that there is a lot of shame associated with it. I wanted to sensitise both the children and parents, because often inadvertently, the elders make fun of the kids, ‘Isko to baar baar susu aati hain’ or something on these lines. This leaves a lasting impression on the children, their self-esteem is affected and so on,” she says. 

“With I Need to Pee, a picture book, I hope to address the taboo and shame associated with a bodily function. If the kids are sensitised, and parents talk to them, then I feel you are opening up communication channels. Later, when the children are confronted with issues of bullying or sexual abuse, they will feel more confident that their parents will listen to them,” adds Singh.

Her session will be on Tuesday, March 31. She will be reading out from her picture book and also interacting with kids and parents.

Thoda meetha, thoda theekha
Yes, that’s the title of Nandini Nayar’s novel, The Curious Case of The Sweet and Spicy Sweetshop. The story is set in a sweetshop, started by Vishnudas’s grandfather. Now, Vishnudas is not keen on running the sweetshop; he wants to do something else. Soon, a boy Ronak joins him. He tells Vishnudas, ‘I am your sister’s son. They call me Ladoo, but I don’t like sweets.’ And, then another girl comes and says, ‘I am your niece’. Now Vishnudas has not been in touch with his sisters, so he doesn’t know if these kids are telling the truth. To top it, there are three ghosts also!

“The crux of the story is about family, about doing things that you like,” says Nayar. 

The author will be reading out on April 10. Still, she will be logging in every day to watch other authors interact with the audience. “I have many questions for the authors; I want to know about their writing process. As writers, we also need to support each other,” she adds.

Nayar, who decided to become a writer after reading Shashi Deshpande’s detective stories for Indian kids, says, she realised, “We could eat desi food and still have many adventures. Earlier, we would read Enid Blyton adventures, which were set in a different world. My intention of writing The Curious Case…also stemmed from the fact that there are so many Indian sweets, why not write about them?”

The schedule

March 30: Harshikaa Udasi - Kittu's Very Mad Day

March 31: Neha Singh - I Need to Pee

April 1: Tazmeen Amna - The Incredible Adventures of Mr. Cheeks: The Carnival of Hastings      

April 2: Anushka Ravishankar - Moin the Monster            

April 3: Deepa Agarwal - Journey to the Forbidden City

April 4: Shaguna Gahilote - Curious Tales from the Himalayas   

April 5: Ruskin Bond - Mukesh Starts A Zoo

April 6: Paro Anand - A Quiet Girl (Hook Books series)

April 7: Tanushree Singh - Darkless        

April 8: Vishes Kothari - Puffin Classics: Timeless Tales from Marwar

April 9: Nayanika Mahtani - Ambushed

April 10: Nandini Nayar - The Curious Case of The Sweet and Spicy Sweetshop    

April 11: Lubaina Bandukwala – Let’s Do This Together

April 12: Prarthana Gahilote - Curious Tales from the Himalayas                

April 13: Arefa Tehsin - The Globetrotters                             

April 14: Lavanya Karthik - Ninja Nani

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