March 7th is World Read Aloud Day! I was honoured to be invited to take part and read aloud to children whilst I travelled. It just so happened I was in the beautiful city of Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India.
This beautiful backdrop is also home to some very sweet and very eager young children. I managed to find two places where I would be able to read to them.
I was approached by the great people at Pratham books who I met through Twitter and saw one of their great stalls at the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai. When I tweeted saying i’d seen them and I was in India, they invited me to take part in this great day and of course, I jumped at the chance.
Generally the lovely team at Pratham Books would send you a book that you could read on the day. Of course mine would have to be in English as my hindi is very basic and Tibetan is most certainly a foreign language to me. Unfortunately due to my constant moving around the place in India we couldn’t arrange to get the book to me. No dramas though. I found a lovely little book shop and found two great books, one about Australia and one about animals. Both with lots of pictures and not too many words.
I had no introductions there in Dharamsala so it was just trying to find a place there were children, or any age people, who wanted to read aloud with me. Obviously kids would appreciate it more so that was the best option. I was informed there was the Yong LLang Kindergarten and the Tibetan Childrens Village. So off I went.
Yong Llang Tibetan Kindergarten was beautiful. I asked the office if I could read to the children and they quickly organised for approcimately 40 bright and smiling little faces to come into a room so I could read to them. They were aged 3-5 and they sat patiently waiting for me to start my story. I read the Lion and the mouse as it was easy to translate and understand. There assistant teacher helped me and we had a super fun time making animal noises together. Rah for the lion and squeak squeak for the mouse. They got so into the story and loved reading along. They all clapped and cheered when I finished and it warmed my heart.
As I thought we were over the assistant teacher said to me “They’re asking for another one.” So I read them the second book. It took longer to translate but they still enjoyed it and liked having me and the teacher tell them what was happening. The teacher said to me at the end that they really had fun and enjoyed it. The kids grasping on to my clothes and not letting me walk out the door was a testatment to this. They just loved looking at the books and trying to read it for themselves.
I then went on to the Tibetan Childrens Village and loved seeing again all the children in this great learning environment. The school has a policy of not interrupting the childrens schooling and program so I wasn’t able to read to them. I think this a great policy and I completely respect their focus on the children and their future. We did visit the library and got to see some of the children in a lesson which was lovely. I donated the 2 books to the library so that many children can enjoy reading them for many years to come.
I’m so thankful to Pratham Books for asking me to be a part of this wonderful day and for giving me the opportunity to have this experience with the children. I look forward to taking part again next year – no matter where in the world I will be.