With the closing down of schools for an indefinite period of time due to COVID-19, parents are finding ways to keep their children gainfully occupied. Now is the time to revive storytelling and Pratham Books, in partnership with United Way India, is doing so in a unique way through the second edition of their ‘Missed Call Do, Kahaani Suno’ campaign. The word ‘unique’ is apt because to listen to stories you do not need an internet connection. All you need to do is to give a missed call to 08033094243.
The stories, from a wide repository, are available in four languages: English, Hindi, Marathi and Kannada. Once a missed call is given, you will receive a call back on your phone, you can choose the age group of the child, and listen to two stories, back-to-back, in the language of your choice. You can give missed calls again to listen to more stories.
‘Missed Call Do, Kahaani Suno’ gives access to over 300 audio stories from Pratham Books. Himanhsu Giri, CEO of Pratham Books, says: “Since the launch of the second edition of ‘Missed Call Do, Kahaani Suno’ yesterday, there has been 40,000 minutes of story delivery.”
After the call, an SMS is sent directing them to read thousands of more stories in the language of their choice on StoryWeaver, a digital platform from Pratham Books that provides free and open access multilingual storybooks for children. Pratham Book is a not-for-profit children’s book publisher founded in 2004 with the mission to see ‘a book in every child's hand’. United Way India (UWI) is a part of the United Way Worldwide network and aims at advancing the common good through its various local programs and initiatives in the areas of health, education, livelihood and disaster relief.
This reporter gave a missed call, and received a call back. I got to listen to two stories in English: Rohini Nilekani’s Too Many Bananas and Lavanya Karthik’s Too Big Too Small . The narration was eloquent, and made more expressive by the background music. At the end of the story interesting nuggets of information were shared.
“The audio stories on offer deal with a diverse range of subjects that explore concepts of science, technology, maths, wildlife and biodiversity, family, friendships, life skills and more. Children are exposed to many new ideas through these stories that help them engage with the world around them with curiosity, imagination and empathy. These stories will help foster listening skills, build vocabulary, and develop an enthusiasm for reading,” says Himanshu.
The first edition of ‘Missed Call Do, Kahaani Suno’ was in 2017. “It was a closed pilot project, then, available in five North Indian states in two languages: English and Hindi. Over 3 lakh stories were delivered to 55,000 children, clocking over a million minutes of story delivery,” says Himanshu.