Celebrating the 90th birthday of Scholastic Books, kids cut a cake, sang Happy Birthday, listened to stories and rhymes…in short, had a whale of a time.

The sprawling grounds of Rajaji Vidya Bhavan's School, Kilpauk, under the darkening skies were lit with Chinese lanterns. The cakes were waiting to be cut. Around 300 kids with parents and grandparents stood patiently and expectantly for the grand celebrations to begin. It was time to say “Happy Birthday” to Scholastic Books, who was celebrating its 90th birthday. Twenty three countries across the globe and seven cities in India were celebrating the books that had given them joy. There was a group of authors and theatre people to take the kids to the land of reading and enchantment.

The arrival of Clippers was greeted with cheer, he was obviously a firm favourite and much loved by the young scholastic readers present. The question, “Why is Clippers dressed in red?” was thrown at the young audience and the answer was shouted back, “Because RED stands for Read Every Day.”

And so the camp fire was lit and while a big fire glowed, it was time for stories and celebrations.

Anushka Ravishankar began the storytelling session with a story from her new book — the retelling of the Arabian Nights. She had chosen the story of “The fisherman and the Djinn”. There was pin drop silence as the kids listened to the story. The retelling was funny and the kids doubled in laughter as the author incorporated the language they were familiar with, into the story.

An activity writer, Anita Bennet, had the children going, by reading a story from a Scholastic Book that she had when she was a child. It was a hilarious interactive session as she read out the Chinese tale of why Chinese kids don't have long names any more. The story began with a boy named: (Chinese parents in that time gave long names to their first born and name their second kid with shorter names like Chang)

“Tikki tikki Tembo Nosa ra Rembo Chari Bhari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo!”. The name was chanted by the kids when ever it came up in the story with hand movements. Many actions in the story too were enacted with the appropriate sound.

Poems were read by Amit of ASAP Productions and one adaptation was:

“This morning is our History test

I have pinned my notes inside my vest

Inside my coat I wrote my notes

Including dates and famous quotes.”

And so the poem went on while the kids giggled and nudged each other.

Students from Madras Christian College, who formed the Funtertainers team, entertained the kids with action songs.

And it was time for the cake to be cut and served with apple juice to follow.

The kids went home with the happy message — to read every day and a memento.

There's exciting stuff to be involved in if you connect to: www.scholastic.com (You can find them on Facebook too.)

You can review a Scholastic Book.

Write to your favourite Scholastic author.

Discover what “Readathon” is all about (a hint – it is a marathon of a different kind)Scholastic Books asks you to join the Global Literacy Call to Action. The campaign is called : “Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life”.

Read every day, lead a better life

The Reading Bill of Rights:

WE BELIEVE that literacy — the ability to read, write and understand — is the birthright of every child as well as the pathway to succeed in school and to realise a complete life.

WE BELIEVE that the massive amounts of information and images available make it even more important for a young person to know how to analyse, interpret and understand information, to separate fact from opinion, and to have deep respect for logical thinking.

WE BELIEVE that literature and drama, whether on printed pages, screens, on stage or film, help young people experience the great stories of emotion and action, leading to a deeper understanding of what it means to be truly human.

WE BELIEVE every child has a right to a “textual lineage” – a reading and writing autobiography which shows who you are is in part developed through stories and information you've experienced. In short, “You Are What You Read.”

WE BELIEVE every child should have access to books, magazines, newspapers, computers, e-readers, and text on phones.

WE BELIEVE that reading widely and fluently will give children the reading stamina to deal with more challenging texts they will meet later in life.

WE BELIEVE that every child has the right to a great teacher who will help them learn to read and love to read.

WE BELIEVE that today, the ability to read is necessary not only to succeed but to survive—for the ability to understand information and the power of stories is the key to a life of purpose and meaning.