Ajai Sreevatsan

A different library hour in Mylapore school

CHENNAI: A row of beaming faces stay glued to the cadence in the voice of a narrator reading from a Roald Dahl gem. A pause here, a funny one-liner there and the faces break into laughter as a character in the book does something mischievous. That is how a library hour at P.S. Senior Secondary School, Mylapore, looks like these days. Libraries are usually rooms of stony silence and a group of youngsters through their start-up ‘iloveread.in' are trying to transform the experience – starting with their former school.

The transformation involves story-telling sessions, art classes to design book covers and games where everyone gets to suggest a line, making up their own story.

“We started out with one simple question,” says Amrutash Misra, an IIT-M graduate and an alumni of the school. “What are the 1,000 books that children should not grow up without reading?” Amrutash, who regrets having dearly missed a library atmosphere that encouraged reading during his schooling days, says “New York has 800 public libraries and they are very accessible to children. In India, there is no such system and school libraries are the place where major change can happen.”

The team of former students also supplies the school with a stock of 500 books, 50 of which will be rotated every fortnight. What they do during the library hour is taken forward by English teachers during classes through discussions and reviews.

“We are just making sure that at least the present batch of students gets a feel of humour and good writing. Reading is a way of exploring one's imagination and it will make students talk, feel and write. It is as important as math and science,” says Amrutash.

Lakshmi Srinivasan, Principal, P.S. Senior Secondary School, Mylapore, says the ‘library outsourcing' programme could take place because of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system as it has given schools a lot of scope to explore various creative means of teaching.

“Exams were a bit limiting, especially due to parental expectations. We can now acknowledge multiple facets of intelligence as each student connects to education in different ways,” she adds.