The Book Lovers’ Program for Schools has the kids chasing books, writes Nithya Sivashankar

Library periods will not just be about reading in silence anymore. The Book Lovers’ Program for Schools (BLPS), a start-up based in Chennai, is all set to jazz it up in Coimbatore through storytelling, theatre and other exercises. Through demo sessions held in association with the Iloveread library in the city, BLPS introduced a bunch of children, parents and teachers to its program. Shilpa Krishnan, storyteller and content manager, BLPS, conducted storytelling sessions recently at the Goethe Zentrum. She explains how it all started in 2010 when Amrutash Misra, the founder of www.iloveread.in, took the idea of encouraging reading among children to P.S. Senior Secondary School, Chennai. “The principal of the school was concerned that the kids were not borrowing many books from their library. In order to address this problem, a program was devised,” she says.

BLPS started getting the Chennai kids interested in reading through activities related to story books. “When we started implementing the program in P.S. Senior, we would go to the school every day, during their library hours and introduce kids to the right books. For instance, take George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl. We would read up to the point where George is about to feed the medicine to the grandmother. The kids would want us to read out some more. But we’d ask them to pick up the book from the library and read it.” Many children did.

Towards the beginning of the academic year in 2011, Riverside Public School in Kotagiri approached BLPS to implement the program in their school. “We created reading modules to aid teachers during classes. We also trained the teachers in storytelling and other exercises through short-term workshops,” says Shilpa.

BLPS, which focuses on creative thinking, comprehension and communication, has implemented their program in 15 schools across the state. They visit schools, organise teacher-training workshops and conduct demo classes for the students and the faculty. “We provide teachers handbooks that have lesson plans, revolving around story books and children’s literature, for classes one to eight. We have recommended activities such as speaking, writing, theatre and art, and word games that the teachers can use in their classes.”

Apart from this, the students who sign up for this program get a Book Lovers’ Notebook that has short stories, poems, worksheets based on lesson modules, a reading tracker and guidelines to improve the habit of reading. “When we are doing activities in class, we encourage teachers not to harshly evaluate the child’s work but to appreciate everything he does. The activities are not compulsory either. The kids choose whether to do them or not,” says Shilpa.

Naresh Ramamurthy, CEO of BLPS, believes that Coimbatore will appreciate the notion of spreading reading. He says, “After Chennai, we wanted to establish a foothold in the nearby cities. Coimbatore was obviously the next destination for us because the city has good educational institutions. The library we work in association with — Iloveread — was also in place.” Naresh visited a few schools in the city a couple of months ago and found out that they were quite receptive to the idea of BLPS. “We will be visiting Coimbatore and reaching out to schools more often. We also want to reach out to parents with programs suited for them. These programs will encourage them to motivate their children to read.”

To know more about BLPS, write to naresh.blps@gmail.com or call: 99623-64521.

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