Week-long programme attracts participants below 10 years

Anxious page flipping, wide-eyed attention, narrations packed with expressions and hand gestures: the story telling contest organised in commemoration of the 45 National Library Week celebrations brought on stage children aged below 10 and their earnest attempts to retell stories that had just been narrated.

Held at the District Central Library, the week-long celebrations roped in for the first time participants belonging to this age bracket. With even four year olds participating, the tone of the event was more encouraging than competitive.

According to District Library Officer A.P. Sivakumar, story telling was an activity that not only developed reading habits, but also encouraged better retention and communication of inherent concepts. “In the present nuclear family set up, the onus is on parents to ensure their children hear and read enough stories,” he said.

Stories of Akbar and Birbal, Tenali Raman, Arabian Nights and stories with morals were culled out from the children’s section at the library and distributed to all the participants.

In the 30 minutes preparatory time given to them, parents and their children worked as a team narrating the given story, and filling in gaps and prompting when the child faltered.

Ten-year-old B.N. Bhuvan from St. James School decided to go with a story he was already well versed with - ‘The Lion and the Hare’.

“I have read this story a lot of times and I am confident about narrating it,” he said. His father, who is a regular at the library, felt reading books had greatly influenced Bhuvan’s communication skills. A couple of seats behind were four-year-old M.R. Rakshana and her friend from Montessori school, S. Iswerya. Accompanied by their mothers, the two friends were getting ready to narrate moral stories.

“While it may seem like they aren’t paying attention, children have very strong capacities to retain and recall when concepts are dressed as stories,” said Vidya Sreeram, mother of Iswerya.

While some children fought memory lapses and stage fright, there were many who impressed the audience with their childish, yet clear narratives. The participants were judged by a four-member panel. While the first prize was bagged by four-year old J. Immanuel, the second and third prizes were won by F. Sharine Catherine (class five student from R.S.K. Primary School) and A. Akshaya (class three student from Periyar Centenary Memorial Matriculation Higher Secondary School) respectively. All participants were given a biography of leaders and scientists by the library.

With the celebrations extending up to November 20, the library has lined up a contest to identify authors in Tamil and a signature campaign to create awareness of libraries among others. “While Prof. G. Balakrishnan will conduct the authors quiz on November 19, the signature campaign at Chatram bus stand will be launched by Collector Jayashree Muralidharan on November 20,” said Mr. Sivakumar.