First time the initiative is being extended to upper primary sections

Students of all government primary and upper primary schools across the State will soon have access to nearly 200 new books that are to be added to the collection of supplementary readers in school libraries.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) wing of the State is spending Rs.20 crore on this initiative, according to a senior official.

Speaking to The Hindu on Thursday, the official said that while the Centre sanctioned Rs.17 crore, the State pooled in the rest.

“We have been supplying books as part of the ‘Puthaga Poongothu Thittam' for the last few years. This year, we want to take the initiative further and enrich the collection available for children,” said the official.

Each primary school would receive a set of books worth Rs.3,000 and the upper primary sections receive books worth Rs.10,000. This is the first time that the initiative is being extended to upper primary sections. The readers will be in English and Tamil, with the Tamil readers covering concepts in science through stories, interactive activities and teasers.

Authored by teachers

All books have been written by teachers working in government schools, with illustrations by art teachers. The teachers involved in the writing and illustrations were trained by a team of experts who specialise in writing for children, as has been the practice in the last few years. In addition to this, a few books are being purchased from the National Book Trust.

Uma Raman, one of the resource persons who trained the teachers, said they were keen that the content was enjoyable and accessible, both in terms of the language and culture. “We got the teachers to decide on the themes and story ideas and then gave inputs on how to write these stories and how to have suitable illustrations made,” she said.

Observing that too much text makes the content inaccessible, particularly when it is in an unfamiliar language, Ms. Raman, who worked with the team writing English supplementary readers, said: “For the upper primary children, we have a little more content compared to lower classes, but it is still easy and will have a lot of colourful illustrations and graphic elements to make it attractive.”

Suchitra Ramkumar, who has been working with the team writing Tamil readers with scientific concepts, said they had tried to introduce concepts in science through stories.

“For instance, we have a story where the seed is asked, ‘Where did you come from?'. The seed would say, ‘I came from the ripe fruit.' The ripe fruit would say, ‘I came from the raw fruit, which would say, ‘I came from the flower'. – essentially tracing its origin to another seed.”

The readers have been categorised into a series such as ‘nature,' ‘discoveries by children' and ‘science in everyday life'. “We have documented how students got innovative. It would be interesting for children to read about how a student like them fished out his teacher's key using a magnet,” said Ms.Ramkumar, who teaches at The School – KFI.

A lot of care has gone into aspects such as avoiding gender biases. The readers are in the final stages of editing and would be ready soon, officials said.