Art

Janaki Sabesh tells stories for children online

Golpo – Tales Unlimited and Lil Trails will host online storytelling sessions at 5 pm every day till March 31

Do you feel like you need a tight hug? Your friendly neighbourhood elephant, Gajapati Kulapati, is right here to give you one. The character from Tulika’s books, is an all-time favourite; listening to actor and storyteller Janaki Sabesh enact his story online, feels exactly like a warm hug from the elephant himself.

The session, that Janaki did live on Instagram on March 17, was the first one that is part of the Online Storytelling Event by Lil Trails and Golpo – Tales Unlimited. Lil Trails is an initiative that young parents Avanti Natarajan and Rajavel Sundar started, to share their parenting journey, while Golpo is Janaki’s organisation that holds storytelling sessions and workshops. Together, they plan to host online storytelling sessions at 5 pm every day till March 31.

Janaki Sabesh tells stories for children online

Lending the sessions plenty of good cheer with her trademark singsong way of narrating stories, is Janaki, who has also written a book for children with Tulika, called The Jungle Storytelling Festival. “Avanti and I decided to do something online for children at home due to the Corona situation,” she says, speaking over phone from Chennai. For Janaki, who is used to telling stories in front of eager, smiling faces, and the “instant gratification” that she received, getting comfortable with the online space took some time. “I was shying away from it for quite a while,” she admits.

But the response to their first session featuring the star elephant was “overwhelming”, and Janaki decided to plunge right in. “My sessions online too have songs and action thrown in,” she says, and adds that she has found a “whole new audience”.

Janaki and Avanti, the latter an artist herself, decided to add to the storytelling sessions — at the end of each of them, is an art tutorial by Lil Trails. “For this, Avanti and Raj will be joining me from Salem,” adds Janaki. Her narration of West African folktale Anansi The Spider, for instance, was followed by a two-minute art session during which Avanti showed children how to draw a simple spider. Children were encouraged to send photos of their version of the spider too and Janaki and team were thrilled to see their submissions. “Our inboxes were flooded with Anansi the spider,” she laughs.

Janaki Sabesh tells stories for children online

The team is trying to come up with new ideas for every session. Yesterday, they featured a Make Your Golpo craft activity. Avanti showed parents and children how to make Four Cups with a piece of paper with words written on each side. She then encouraged them to come up with their own stories using the words and also share videos and photos of the activity.

While Janaki agrees that “nothing can take away from face-to-face interaction with children”, she adds that she finds it encouraging to see heart-warming messages from parents, and even grandparents. “It’s nice that everyone is joining in,” she says, adding that ultimately, all she wants to do at the moment, is “spread smiles”.

The Online Storytelling Event is at 5 pm every day, till March 31. Join the team live by following @maajanaki and @liltrails. The videos will also be uploaded on the Facebook page of Golpo Tales and LilTales’ IGTV.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 9:13:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/janaki-sabesh-tells-stories-for-children-online/article31153030.ece

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