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C O V E R S T O R Y

VOL. I | NO. 1 | APRI LJ UNE 2013 VOL. I | NO. 1 | APRI LJ UNE 2013
Anita Nair shares
her passion for
reading and
writing in her
inimitable style
Poetic
Commentary
on books by
Gulzar
Poetic
Commentary
on books by
Gulzar
Becky Morales
writes about
multicultural
reading
Deepa Agarwal
on why
reading is
important
Former NCERT Director
talks Krishna Kumar
about reading & democracy
Students talk about reading
and its place in their lives
Udayan Bhatta
travels to
the land of
Aurora Borealis
R 50.00 Regn. No.: Applied for / Quarterly
An exclusive
interview of
Amish Meluha Tripathi
Glimpses of Ninad Naubahar
Takshilas cultural reawakening initiative Ninad, was organised at
Patna, Pune, Ludhiana and Coimbatore recently. Here are some frozen moments
from all the cities
P A T N A P A T N A
P U N E P U N E
L U D H I A N A L U D H I A N A
C O I M B A T O R E C O I M B A T O R E
1 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Editorial Board
Editor
Rajnish Sharma
KNOWLEDGE CENTRE
Coordinator
Shradha
DPS PATNA
Teacher Coordinator
Rupa Verma
Student Coordinators
Vaibhav Kumar, Kumari Adity
DPS PUNE
Teacher Coordinator
Myrtle TJ Francis
Student Coordinators
Sarvika Tuli, Nikita Nair
DPS LUDHIANA
Teacher Coordinator
Ruchika Bhakoo
Student Coordinator
Mokshlakshmi Bhan
DPS COIMBATORE
Teacher Coordinator
K. R. Shanthi
Student Coordinators
Ruheen Kaur, A. Akash
TES Orbit
is published & printed by Sanjiv Kumar
and is owned by and published at
Takshila Educational Society
A-22 (Basement), Defence Colony
New Delhi 110 024.
Telefax: +91 11 41555418/428
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Shed No. 92, DSIDC
Okhla Industrial Area, New Delhi-110020

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COVER STORY
Barrow of Books An insight into the mind of Anita Nair
4
Urvi
Urvis 'ulta-pulta' novel
5
Houses of Wisdom
A brief history of libraries
across the globe
11
Your Pathway to a
Rewarding Career
Useful tips on becoming
a writer
13
Encounter with Aurora Borealis
Discover the magical
land of Northern Lights
19
Making of World Citizen
Becky Morales take on
multicultural reading
21
A Classic is forever
A commentary on the
importance of classical
literature
22
Ambience Matters
Environment impacts
reading habit
24
New Gen Readers
E-books vs Prints
25
Reading is Holistic
Role of teachers in
making learning
addictive
28
Growing up with
Childrens Magazines
A fond recollection of
childhood reading
30
Blend of Literature
and Tourism
Why Jaipur attracts so
many literati
33
Kitaben Jhankti Hain
Gulzars poetic tribute
to books
36
Read Books to Write Books
An author extols the
virtues of reading
38
Reading is Basic to Democracy
Krishna Kumars take on
relevance of literacy
41
Pottermania
Students write about
their favourite wizard
44
Students' Favourite Novel
A survey on who is
reading what
51
Showers of Shiva's Blessings
Amish Tripathi's
exclusive tte--tte with
TES Orbit
53
Are We being Cruel
to Bright Kids
An expert view on
learning disabilities
54
Long Live the King
of Fairy Tales
Our homage to Hans
Christian Andersen
56
Book Review
Many a tome, many
a fan!
58
News Capsule
60
Crossword
7
C O N T E N T S
FORM IV
1. Place of Publication: Takshila Educational Society, New Delhi
2. Periodicity of its Publication: Quarterly
3. Printers Name: Sanjiv Kumar
Nationality: Indian
Address: C-484, III Floor, Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024
4. Publishers Name: Sanjiv Kumar
Nationality: Indian
Address: C-484, III Floor, Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024
5. Editors Name Rajnish Sharma
Nationality: Indian
Address: B 1/4, River Bank Colony, Lucknow 226001 (U.P.)
6. Names and addresses of
individuals who own the newspaper
and partners or shareholders holding
more than one per cent of
the total capital.
Owner: Takshila Educational Society
Address: A-22 (Basement), Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024

I, Sanjiv Kumar, hereby declare that the particulars given above are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Date: 1st April, 2013 Signature of Publisher
2 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
I
have this one crazy habit. Every time I pick up a
new book, I hold it close to my nose and ll my
lungs with its heady smell. Its the scent of the
freshly printed pages of a new book that gives
me a high. The content follows thereafter.
After going through what you all have written, I
feel I have precious little to add. But I must say I am
amazed at the various dimensions of Reading (the
theme for this issue) that you have explored and that
too, during your exam time. Keep up the good work.
I have one unsolicited piece of advice for you. I
strongly believe that reading must be followed by
writing. It somehow completes the experience and
brings to a logical conclusion all that you have learnt.
I have read so many accounts of foreign travellers
in India during ancient and medieval eras but never
an Indian travellers version of his experiences in
Greece, Rome, China, England, Iran or Arabia (with
the exception of tales of Guru Nanaks travels). I
would have loved to read any one such travelogue
in which the Indian writer narrates and judges the
foreign land that he traverses from purely an Indian
world view.
We can only savour and gain from the experiences
of various illustrious personalities from dierent
eras including the current century, if we read about
them or their own works. And as you get inspired
and widen your horizon thus, remember not to deify
these men and women. They are no dierent from
you. Like them, you too can attain all that you want
to, once you set your mind on it.
Popular children books author Ruskin Bond once
said reading has always been a minority pastime.
Well, its time we changed this even as, more than
ever, there are distractions galore in this tech-driven
day and age. I have often wondered why booklovers
are often dismissed as laidback or passive. Nothing
could be further from the truth. While excess of
anything is bad, a booklover (as against a bookworm),
let me tell you, leads a perfectly active life. Its just
that most of the time, this action takes place inside
his head. And it shows in every interaction he has
with the outside world. Not all among the well-
read may take to activism but they sure can give a
constructive direction to the energies of the action-
oriented. Thats where their dynamism lies.
With this issue, TES Orbit literally moves into
an altogether dierent orbit. We have well-known
authors like Anita Nair and Deepa Agarwal writing
exclusively for us. We also have Amish Tripathi of
Meluha fame sharing his thoughts with us. Anita,
Deepa and Amish, welcome aboard!
Rajnish Sharma
3 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
I have never known any distress that an hours reading did not relieve
-Charles de Montesquieu
D
uring the past decade, I have become
increasingly aware of the need to use school
time for encouraging the reading habit.
Demographic trends increasingly indicate
that many of our students are living in homes with two
working parents. Thus, a number of our students enter
homes each afternoon with little or no supervision.
So, they become involved in too much of television
viewing, too much of conversation on mobiles and
other activities that displace reading for pleasure.
Thus, we must accept the challenge of encouraging the
lifetime reading habit in school.
Developing an enthusiasm for
reading is a fundamental goal of
educational institutions. Schools
should produce children who should
read rather than merely children
who can read. A barometer for the
progress and civilization of any nation
is the quality and the number of books,
and the number of persons habituated
to reading them. Formal education
of a person is no criterion of judging a persons
learning. Children who read frequently possess larger
vocabularies, enhanced writing abilities, improved
spelling and better command on grammar. There is
a lot to like about reading. It stimulates conversation,
creativity, and comfort. However, its values and uses
must be demonstrated and experienced personally,
and teachers play a vital role by providing an
environment that supports students discovery and
internalization of the values and uses of reading.
Frank Smith (1989) laments that youngsters seldom
experience reading other than as a meaningless set
of activities; he promotes the use of reading and
writing to help the brain achieve what the brain does
best the creation of worlds. According to Becoming
a Nation of Readers (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, &
Wilkinson, 1985), The single most important activity
for building the knowledge required for eventual
success in reading is reading aloud to children.
The authors suggest that it is a practice that should
continue at all school levels.
The idea that reading provides comfort is an old
notion. An inscription over the ancient Greek li-
brary at Thebes read Places for healing of the Soul.
Montesquieu (1899) wrote: I have never known any
distress that an hours reading did not relieve. Sto-
ries give us new hope. You will be glad to know that
Takshila schools have initiated Read Program from
this year for all levels. Schools are so busy teach-
ing reading skills that they are neglecting to devel-
op readers. As they say, reading can be caught, not
taught, just like values. But the evidence seems to
suggest that children cannot catch
it by themselves. They need help and
schools must provide it. One of the
most crucial tasks in Read Program is
the transformation of children whose
attitude towards reading has been one
of indifference and active dislike into
avid readers.
Dont ask me whos influenced me.
A lion is made up of the lambs hes
digested, and Ive been reading all my
life, said Charles de Gaulle. Self-concept is closely
related to reading success and a child who sees him-
self as a reader, finally develops himself as a reader.
Getting him to see himself so is a task which can be
accomplished by effectively teaching him the basic
reading skills, providing him with recreational read-
ing, encouraging him to read books with which he can
identify himself and by helping him build a feeling
of worth concerning himself. Once the reading hab-
it has been firmly established, however, it is time to
encourage children to vary their interests and enrich
their tastes. Success with these approaches requires
cooperative support of classroom teachers, librarians,
administrators and parents. Such support, of course,
involves sustainable hard work, but these efforts will
be worth it.
z Sanjiv Kumar
Secretary, Takshila Educational Society
Pro Vice-Chairman
Delhi Public School, Patna, Pune, Ludhiana & Coimbatore
TAKSHILA
Fundamental Goal
Developing an
enthusiasm for reading
is a fundamental goal of
educational institutions.
Schools should produce
children who should
read rather than merely
children who can read
4 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Urvis twist in tale!
Inspired by this issue of TES Orbit, Urvi has taken up reading.
See how her experience ends...
5 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Jinoy Jose P
Take a look at some of the biggest
libraries in the world
Me, poor man, my library
Was dukedom large enough.
Prospero, in William
Shakespeares The Tempest
H
ow often do you visit a
library? Of course, you
will be going to your
schools reading room
or library almost every day, but
have you ever been to a public
library in your district centre?
You must. Libraries pack a lot of
knowledge in different forms
books, newspapers and magazines,
compact discs, monographs, digital
documents, and many other forms.
Have you heard about electronic
books or e-books? They are paper-
less and in digital forms. Now there
are gadgets available to read them
on. Yes, you guessed it right. The
iPads, tablets, and similar devices
can read e-books. With paperless
books growing in number, soon
there will be libraries without any
physical books. No, it is not a joke.
It is happening already. A new
4,989 square-foot library called
BiblioTech, in the Bexar County
in San Antonio in the United
States (US), will hold no physical
books. All the titles are in the
e-book form.
Worlds No. 1
The US also has the worlds largest
library The Library of Congress.
Established in 1800 in Washing-
ton DC, the library is now divided
in four buildings. It also has an-
other campus in Virginia. If you
measure it in terms of shelf space
and the number of books, the Li-
brary of Congress is the worlds
No. 1 of its kind. In total, it has
151,785,778 items! This includes
more than 2 crore catalogued
books and 5,600 books that were
printed before year 1500, and sev-
eral monographs, newspapers, re-
ports and other printed material.
There are several hundreds of
rare books and more than 60 lakh
manuscripts.
The library administration says
this mammoth collection of books
can fill more than 1,300 km of book-
shelves. The library is open to the
public, but mostly it is used by the
541 members of the US Congress,
their staff and other members. It is
one of the best research and refer-
ence centres in the world. Interest-
ingly, this library also runs a ser-
vice called the National Library
Service for the Blind and Physi-
cally Handicapped. Through this,
it offers audio books and books in
the language of the blind, Braille,
and serves about 8 lakh people in
the US. Want to know more about
it? Log on to www.loc.gov
Ancient libraries
A lot of people describe ancient
Egypt as the cradle of civilizations.
So it is no wonder that one of the
most important old libraries is lo-
cated in Egypt. The Royal Library
of Alexandria, which is also called
the Ancient Library of Alexandria,
The Library of Congress
The mammoth collection of books in the
Library of Congress can fill more than
1,300 km of bookshelves
6 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
is located in, as the name suggest,
Alexandria the second largest
city of Egypt. In ancient times, this
was a place of union for scholars
and statesmen.
There is no accurate information
on when was this library set up.
But many believe it was organized
by Demetrius of Phaleron during
the rule of Ptolemy I Soter (367 BC
283 BC). An orator and scholar
from Athens, Phaleron modelled
the study centre after his teach-
er Aristotles school. The library
faced several attacks. One of these
came in 48 BC from Julius Caesar
of Rome, who burned it down. An-
other one, from Roman emperor
Aurelian, also caused much dam-
age. Still the library continued to
be a beacon of knowledge for peo-
ple across Africa and West Asia.
Today, the modern version of the
library is called Bibliotheca Alex-
andrina. It is a major cultural cen-
tre now. It can hold about 10 lakh
books, features an Internet archive,
six specialized libraries for arts,
video and audio materials, the vi-
sually challenged people, children,
young people, microforms and
rare books and special collections.
It also has four museums for An-
tiquities, Manuscripts, Sadat and
the History of Science. The library
also runs 15 permanent exhibitions
on various subjects, along with a
planetarium and four art galleries.
Sounds really impressive, right?
You can find more online here:
www.bibalex.eg
Now, what about the most im-
portant libraries in India? We have
a strong tradition of libraries and
teaching. Remember, the Nalanda
University that saw its great days
during year 427 to 1190s had a
very vast library. It was so vast that
when an army under army under
Bakhtiyar Khilji attacked it in 1193
and set it afire, it took them about
three months to burn the whole li-
brary down! Since the British start-
ed ruling India, the country saw a
series of libraries, especially in cit-
ies like Kolkata and Mumbai. The
nationalist movement for freedom
also gave momentum to libraries.
Today, the country has thousands
of libraries, including public, gov-
ernment-funded libraries, univer-
sity libraries, privately-sponsored
libraries and cooperative libraries.
In India
During the British Raj, the Na-
tional Library Kolkata was called
the Imperial Library. It was formed
in 1891. But much before it was
set up, there was another library
in Kolkata, called Calcutta Public
Library (1836). The British later
merged both these institutions to
create the library we see today.
After India got freedom, a legisla-
tion in 1948 gave it a special status.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who
was the then Union Minister of
Education, opened the library for
public use in 1953. Today, it is the
largest library in the country and
is located on 30 acres in Kolkatas
Belvedere Estate.
The library has a total num-
ber of about 25 lakh books. Apart
from collecting English books, the
library has dedicated divisions
for regional languages such as As-
samese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi,
Kannada, and more. Its Sanskrit
division collects and processes
Pali and Prakrit books. The library
also has a foreign language collec-
tion, which includes books from
languages such as Chinese, Thai,
French, Polish and many more. The
library is run by the Union Minis-
try of Culture. For membership
details and other information, you
can check its website: www.nation-
allibrary.gov.in
There are several similar librar-
ies in India. Prominent among them
is the Nehru Memorial Museum
and Library in New Delhi. It is lo-
cated in Teen Murti Bhavan prem-
ises, where Pandit Nehru lived for
16 long years. Interestingly, this
building was designed by British
architect Robert Tor Russel and
built in 1929-30. The library stores
all the works that talk about Indias
struggle against the British. It also
encourages academic research in
history. During the past four de-
cades, this library has become an
important institution of research.
It regularly conducts lectures and
seminars. The famous Jawaharlal
Nehru Memorial Lecture is held
here annually.
The library houses several thou-
sands of books, along with an im-
pressive manuscript store. Over a
thousand precious collections are
here; they run into more than 50
lakh pages in 24,000 boxes. Its oral
history section boasts of audio in-
terviews with eminent people from
India and abroad. The size of this
collection is really huge: at the mo-
ment, it has 8000 spool tapes run-
ning into over 6,000 hours of inter-
views. Further, it stores about 2,700
audio spool tapes of speeches that
Nehru had given. The library is
located in the same building that
houses the famous Nehru Planetar-
ium in Delhi. More information is
available here: www.nehrumemo-
rial.com/
z Jinoy Jose P is a
Delhi-based journalist.
When Bakhtiyar
Khiljis army set
afire the Nalanda
University, it took
them about three
months to burn
the whole library
down
7 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Time can be captured
in the palm by the very
act of holding a book
whose pages emit the
sweet fragrance of the
printed word
z Anita Nair
A
s a child I was fasci-
nated by words and the
thought of spinning sto-
ries with words. My pas-
sion for stories grew from my par-
ents. My mother fed me stories so I
would eat. [I was a very fussy eater
and would only do if my attention
was diverted]. And my father was
a brilliant raconteur whose tales al-
ternated between vintage magic re-
alism and anecdotes that sparkled
with wit and were mostly drawn
from his working life. They also
had a great eye for the absurd and
together all of this exercised a great
influence on my imagination.
8 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
I grew up in a suburb called Ava-
di near Chennai which was filled
with numerous Ministry of Defence
establishments. Apart
from two Ord-
nance factories,
the army, air
force, the CRPF
and SAP were all
stationed there
and were drawn
from various parts
of the country.
And so I was in-
troduced to several
Indian languages,
all at the same time.
This had its effect on
my reading. On the
one hand my favorite
books as a child were
the popular books of that period -
The Anne of Green Gables series,
The Coral Island, William books
and all of Enid Blyton. But I was
also reading or entering the world
of Indian languages. I would insist
my mother read out to me in Ma-
layalam and Tamil, and Hindi and
Sanskrit from school. And in the
school library I found translations
of novels from Indian languages.
So my literary influences came as
much from Indian writings as from
the western world.
Taste in reading
But it was English I fell in love
with and so I chose to read mostly
in English. Perhaps if I had been
exposed to Arabic and I had fallen
in love with it I may have read it!
Eventually it doesnt matter for
what is important is the reading
habit. I read a great deal and my
taste in reading varied from the
highbrow to the pedantic. All of
us in my family read a great deal.
But they preferred to read popular
books and at some point I moved
away from that to literary fiction
because I was sated by the predict-
ability of popular fiction. I read
books with a frenzied hunger then
as now. In fact, I read every day for
several hours. Be-
ginning and end-
ing my day with a book. I dont
think I can stay away from books for
too long. In fact, the very thought
of not having a book at arms reach
scares me silly. And so I became a
collector of books as well.
Old old-book shops
A long time ago when Chennai was
Madras and Anna Salai, Mount
Road, alongside the Central Station
was this elegant red building called
Moore Market that housed many
a bargain. From genuine leather
shoes that fell apart by the time you
had walked past Ripon building
to Rolex watches that
shed gold flakes
to silk saris that
shrunk when
you perspired.
But what Moore
Market also held
in its vast innards
were old books.
Little cubby-
holes stacked high
with books that
were laden with dust
and stories. There is
a calm there that is
seldom found in reg-
ular book shops. The
past looms allowing
no peer pressure, no
posters announcing the
arrival of yet another major new
talent, no newspaper clippings de-
tailing fabulous advances, no best-
seller lists, no need to schmooze
just corridors of dusty, musty old
books by either obscure or very
dead authors.
Old old-book shops have always
had a strange effect on me. For one,
a rush thats akin to free-falling. A
feeling of not knowing what next,
as one cruises through the hallways
of print. The romance of chanc-
ing upon a find, the excitement of
discovery, the rush of blood to the
head, sweet fulfilment
In one such cubby-hole, I found
what to this day is my prized pos-
session a first edition of Sorrell
and Son by Warwick Deeping.
Only then, a first edition meant
little except that it was so tattered
that I got it for almost nothing.
Sense of triumph
Every once in a while, my
brother Sunil and I would take
the suburban train from Avadi to
Madras Central; we were in the city
to shop for clothes. But I would
insist on staying within Moore
Market, quite content to settle for
The only way the
readership base
can be broadened
is when parents,
teachers and media
take a collective
responsibility for
apprising the young
people the benefits
of reading
9 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
cheap accoutrements and use the
extra for books. I would browse
till a mysterious force would lead
me to a find in a pile. Sometimes
it was merely an author I had
always wanted to read; sometimes
it was a book that no one obviously
had wanted to but it still was an
exemplary piece of writingI
never left Moore Market without a
book or a sense of triumph.
My uncles and aunts would
catch me with my nose buried in
a book and sigh. My reading made
me unsocial, they thought. She
will give up her obsessive reading
once she is grown up, one of them
said. Once life makes its demands,
her reading will go out of the
window.
I look at my bedside table now
and see how it groans under the
weight of books. The pile of books
Chennais Moore Market - A famous haunt of book lovers
Anita Nair the author and a book lover
10 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
on it could totter and collapse at any
moment. Defying all laws of gravity,
they stand, possibly by the sheer
weight of their collective intellect,
and perhaps my cussedness.
Pure delight
Every once in a while, I look at
them and cant suppress a wave
of pure delight. This is the joy of
a magpie woman who has foraged
and found a shiny vein of brilliant
writing. Like a child who cant bear
to be parted from a much longed
for toy, I want them at my side
where I can see and occasionally
give them a little pat. This is a
woman who has just put to bed
her book-buying day.
Sometimes I am asked what am
I going to do with all the books I
buy. Would I read them again? I
have a very simple equation. The
books that I like very much are
the books that live with me. The
rest are given away. When a book
means a great deal to me I gift those
to very close family members. It is
my Plan B. This way, I know that if
the need ever arises, I can borrow it
back from them.
Collective
responsibility
Reading has always been
considered the pastime of the
minority. The only way the
readership base can be broadened is
when parents, teachers and media
take a collective responsibility for
apprising the young people the
benefits of reading. But there is
something else.
Every time I travel to a new
place, the first thing I do is to look
for books. So that whether it is a
swank new store, or a little hole in
the wall or a flea market or even a
barrow of books or a lone shelf in
the back room of some caf, I know
a firm sense of belonging when I
get there.
As if time can be captured in my
palm by the very act of holding a
book whose pages emit the sweet
and cloying fragrance of the
printed word. As if by inhaling
this intoxicating fragrance, part
memory, part organic, I can feel a
tie bonding me to that book. And
so for the moment I cease to be
author. Teller of stories. Peddler
of imagination. I am the supreme
creation of the God of books. A
reader and a book lover.
Anita Nair is the bestselling author of
The Better Man, Ladies Coupe, Mistress, Les-
sons in Forgetting and Cut Like Wound. Her
books have been translated into over 30
languages around the world.
She is also the founder and editor of the
online literary journal
The Heavenly Bliss Salon for Men.
Old old-book shops have always had a
strange effect on me. For one, a rush thats
akin to free-falling. A feeling of not knowing
what next, as one cruises through the
hallways of print
Rendezvous
with books
Books are the plane, and the
train, and the road. They are the
destination, and the journey.
They are home.
T
his is a quote by Anna
Quindlen from her book
'How Reading Changed My
Life'. Books can spell magic;
they transport us to a different world.
An inspirational book can change our
world for the better.
In the early seventies when television
was discovered, many had predicted
that the era of books was going to come
to an end. Then again when computer
and internet began to revolutionise our
lives, the same prediction was made
but it has also been proved wrong. The
relevance of books has not gone down;
it has, on the contrary, grown by leaps
and bounds.
Reading is an active mental process.
Each and every word you read makes
you think which makes you smarter.
Books provide information; help us
improve our vocabulary, concentration
and memory. With a book you can learn
anywhere. A well read person is always
a pleasure to interact with. There are
also findings to show that a good book
is a great stress buster.
It is very important to introduce
young children to age appropriate
books. They should be told about the
great writers and encouraged to read
their books. Once the habit is incul-
cated in them at a young age they have
a friend for a lifetime. Books are the
quietest and most constant of friends;
they are the most accessible and wisest
of counsellors, and the most patient of
teachers," said Charles William Eliot.
So lets befriend and absorb them.
z Pratibha Nair,
Department of EVS, DPS Coimbatore
11 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
F
rancis Bacon once said,
Reading maketh the man.
I would add to two more
words, AND CAREERS!
Though we live in an age of
information explosion with easy
access to a universe of knowledge,
yet reading classics, novels and
biographies (print or digital
versions) is not a popular hobby
among students. While today, many
more books are being published
and made available digitally, it is
mainly the older generation that
continues to read them. The woe
of school and college librarians
across the country is that they get
the latest books but there are very
few takers!
Reading books is one of the most
vital ingredients for your success
in getting a career of your choice.
Whether you have to appear for
competitive exams for selection to
the top campuses of management,
law, media, hospitality, design, etc
or for SAT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL,
IELTS or for the government, de-
fence and banking services, your
proficiency in the English language
and its correct grammatical usage,
comprehension and vocabulary
will be tested. Even the papers of
logical reasoning have topics like
syllogisms which require an un-
derstanding of words and their
meaning.
Intangible benefits
The man who does not read good
books has no advantage over the
man who cant read them, observed
Mark Twain. Undoubtedly,
the ability to communicate
knowledgeably, effectively
and eloquently during group
discussions and interviews or as a
professional is largely the outcome
of being an avid reader. Those who
have reading as a hobby, often end
up scoring high marks in interviews
not merely because they answered
the questions related to the books
they have read but because the
C
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interviewers are also aware of the
tangible and intangible benefits
of reading in shaping ones mind
and personality. Most successful
students have invariably endorsed
these facts and emphasised that
their habit of reading regularly
made all the difference in giving
them a competitive edge.
The questions students general-
ly ask is Where do I begin?, What
should I read, How do I fit read-
ing into a crowded daily schedule?
and How can reading help me to
prepare for a career? Lets discuss
each of these.
Where do I begin and what should
I read?: Start by identifying your
interests. For example, in case sci-
ence as a subject is a passion, you
could make a beginning by read-
ing the Harry Potter series by JK
Rowling if you have not already
devoured them many times over!
Some of the other popular science
fiction novels are Nineteen Eighty
Four by George Orwell, The End of
Eternity and Foundation by Isaac
Asimov, Glasshouse by Charles
Stross, and Stories of your Life and
Others by Ted Chiang. If you are
fascinated by mystery you could
read novels by Agatha Christie,
Arthur Conan Doyle, John Grish-
am, John Le Carre, Frederick For-
syth, Ken Follett, Jeffrey Archer,
Robert Ludlum and Len Deighton
among others. If the lives of fa-
mous personalities are of interest,
biographies and autobiographies
are likely to hold you spellbound.
For humour, there is nothing to
beat the books by PG Wodehouse.
Some others are Lucky Jim by
Kingsley Amis and Changing Plac-
es: A Tale of Two Campuses by Da-
vid Lodge.
Your reading list should include
novels by renowned Indian writers
like Salman Rushdie, Arundhati
Roy, Vikram Seth, VS Naipaul,
Anita Desai, Rohinton Mistry,
Amitav Ghosh and Chetan Bhagat.
In addition, it is highly rec-
ommended that you embark on
reading some timeless classics by
Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Ste-
phenson, Alexandre Dumas, Jane
Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Victor
Hugo and Mark Twain.
Reading books is one of the most vital
ingredients for your success in getting
a career of your choice
z Dr Amrita Dass
12 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
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Should you be daunted by the
prospect of reading an entire novel,
start with graphic novels and short
stories. The Complete Short Sto-
ries by Guy de Maupassant, Inter-
preter of Maladies by Jhumpa La-
hiri, Quiver full of Arrows and Twist
in the Tale by Jeffery Archer have
had universal appeal. Check the
best seller list of fiction and non-
fiction books as this is an indicator
of a book worth reading.
It is also worthwhile reading mo-
tivational and self help books (that
provide guidelines to enhance your
personality, develop qualities of
leadership and other employability
skills) by renowned authors like
Stephen Covey, Deepak Chopra,
Dale Carnegie, Paulo Coelho, Eck-
art Tolle and Robin Sharma.
How do I fit reading into a crowd-
ed daily schedule?: Where there
ability and power of imagination.
All this boosts your self esteem and
confidence. In a nutshell, reading
leads to a smart mind and a smart
personality. This in itself is an ex-
cellent launch pad for a rewarding
and enriching career.
Above all, reading is FUN. So
read for the sheer pleasure and
enjoyment of it. Consider books
among your best friends!
Dr Amrita Dass is a well-known
educationist and career consultant.
is a will, there is way! Your aim
should be to read at least two books
a month. This is a doable target.
Start by making a list of books
that you plan to read in the next
six months. Then check whether
these are available in your school
library. If not, request the librarian
to purchase a copy. If for some rea-
son this is not possible, consider
spending your pocket money in ac-
quiring a copy and gradually build
up a library of your own! Set aside
time to read each weekend and on
holidays, in case you are unable to
do so during weekdays.
How can reading help me to pre-
pare for a career?: The benefits
of reading are countless. Reading
sharpens your mind, makes you
more knowledgeable and a life-
long learner, improves your abil-
ity to comprehend, enhances your
vocabulary, develops your creative
Some of the successful Indian authors: (clockwise from top) Rohinton Mistry, Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Kushwant Singh, Arvind Adiga
Amitava Ghosh, Chetan Bhagat, Jhumpa Lahiri, Amitav Kumar and Arundhati Roy
13 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Encounter with Aurora Borealis
Iceland abounds in black volcanic rocks, lush
green fields, snow laden hills, glaciers, volcanoes,
waterfalls, lakes and rivers
z Text & photos: Udayan Bhatta
6
th February 2013. Early morning.
The jetliner took off from Mumbai.
I smiled. Phew... Made it. With
extreme work pressures, my
leave, though pre-approved was in dire
peril and it took me a lot of haggling and
diplomacy to make sure it holds good.
As I put on my headphones and close
my eyes, my thoughts went back to that
humid December evening in 2011.
14 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Travel Times
I was sitting with my crazy group of friends in the
Bali island of Sunderbans when someone mentioned
the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and Iceland.
After a thorough research on Google, it was decided
that February 2013 is a good month to go chasing the
Northern Lights (this was based on the predicted solar
activities). The itinerary was planned, flights booked
and after an extended discussion on what kind of gear
there should be to brace the icy conditions, we final-
ly equipped ourselves with whatever we could. Extra
camera batteries were packed, as the batteries die out
lot quicker in cold. We were all set to go.
After taking a break at London to meet up an old
friend, and a quick two and a half hours flight, we fi-
nally landed in Keflavik airport, Iceland close to mid-
night. It was cold and rainy. The moment I stepped out
of the terminal building, smelling the crisp air, I looked
up scanning the sky for any hint of green. It was cloudy.
Darn! But we still had a week to go and the predictions
were favourable.
Blue Lagoon
Next morning was spent dipping in the
hot frosty blue mineral rich waters of
the Blue Lagoon. It was an experience
to be in the open air pool with tem-
peratures in excess of 40 deg C, while
it was sub-zero outside. We had read
much about the famous hot dogs of
Iceland, and thats exactly where we
headed. After a couple of awesome hot
dogs, we bought some provisions and
headed out to explore Iceland. We had
planned to spend time in the Southern
coastal part of the country. A country
with a total population of just a little
over 3 lakhs! Wow, thats less than a
suburb of Mumbai.
So we set off in the huge monstrous
super jeep with tyres that reached my
shoulders with our cool driver-cum-
guide, Eggert. Driving by the southern
coast next to the Atlantic Ocean, we
started soaking in the landscape of Ice-
land. Iceland abounds in black volca-
nic rocks scattered all over the place,
lush green fields, snow laden hills, gla-
ciers, volcanoes, waterfalls, lakes, riv-
ers, deep blue sky and the cleanest air
my lungs have ever inhaled. It is said
that Iceland is the only country where
you can drink water straight from a
stream and you will be fine. I agree.
Water doesnt taste so good elsewhere. There are very
few trees in Iceland and the ones that are there, are
small. As Eggert told me, to get lost in a jungle in Ice-
land, you have to be extremely dumb or heavily drunk.
And if you do get lost, all you have to do is stand up
and you will find your way out.
Aurora Borealis is a natural light display
in the sky particularly in the high latitude
(Arctic and Antarctic) regions, caused by the
collision of energetic charged particles with
atoms in the high altitude atmosphere (ther-
mosphere). The charged particles originate
in the magnetosphere and solar wind and,
on Earth, are directed by the Earths magnet-
ic field into the atmosphere. It is a feature-
less glow in the sky that may vary in bright-
ness from just barely visible to the naked
eye, to bright enough to read a newspaper by
at night. Source: Wikipedia
15 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
The huge cascading waterfall at
Gulfoss was our first stop. It was a
sight to see. Huge volumes of water
flowing down with a roar, sending
up mist high up in the air. A finger
numbing wind was blowing and I
headed down the 200 steps to get
to a good point for taking pictures.
Now came the challenge. How to
adjust the controls? No way was I
going to take off my gloves. Then
the love for photography took over
logical reasoning and off came the
gloves. Blistering Barnacles... The
cold air stung. I struggled with the
camera for a while, taking some
pictures and finally gave up. I
somehow managed to get back to
the warmth of our jeep. It took a
good 10 minutes before sensation
began creeping back in my hands
and face. Close to the waterfall is
the Geyser area. There are a few
active ones which keep erupting
The huge cascading
waterfall at Gulfoss
every 5-7 minutes on an average.
What a sight.. Water with tempera-
ture ranging from 80-100 deg C,
the geyser erupts with a woooosh-
ing sound going high in the air. We
checked in Hotel Ranga, which
seems to be in the middle of no-
where. Wonderful! Thats what we
want. No light pollution when we
see the Northern Lights. This hotel
is one of the best in Iceland and
definitely the best to see the lights.
So the skies are clear and the hotel
receptionist tells me that the possi-
bility of seeing the lights is at level
3 (which is very good it seems). We
tell her to inform us if the lights are
visible and go to our comfortable
rooms to relax our bones.
Northern Lights
The phone rings. The girls voice
says cheerfully Hi we are seeing
the Northern Lights. Wow. Its re-
ally happening. Next thing I know
I am sprinting through the corridor
towards the exit. I suddenly stop.
Damn. Turn back. Sprint back to
my room. Put on the 3 layers of
warm clothing over me, the wool-
len socks, the boots, balaclava, in-
ner and outer gloves, mount the
camera on the tripod, do the set-
tings right here. I remember what
happened earlier in the day. Now
I march out of the hotel exit like a
soldier holding my camera ready
to fire at will. Just one simple
problem. Err..Where exactly is the
light? And then slowly as my eyes
got used to the darkness, I could
see it close to the horizon. A faint
band of green. It got a bit brighter,
but nothing like I had seen in the
pictures. A tad disappointed, we
called it a day.
Sunrise happened at about 9:30
AM and we were out to explore
the country again. Today was the
day of adventure with the 4 wheel
drive to be put to maximum use.
We went over boulders and hill-
ocks, splashed our way through
At Rejkjavik
16 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Travel Times
streams and rivers. At one point
of time our driver had to reduce
the tyre pressure from 25 to 8 PSI
to get the right traction. We went
to a volcanic area, spent some
time at the waterfall at Skogafoss
and went off-roading on the snow
clad hills. However, this day had
something in store for me. We
wanted the driver to let us off the
jeep and take pictures of the jeep
crossing the stream with a huge
splash. All was well. Just that I
never saw that I had positioned
myself too close to the track al-
most at the edge of the stream. I
thought that will give me a great
angle for the shot. Yeah. Right. It
also gave me a great shower. The
water was icy cold and the spray
came in huge volume. The next
two hours were spent in the jeep,
teeth clattering. Sigh I guess
the temperatures were beyond
the optimal required for the func-
tioning of my brain. And this was
not all.
Aurora Borealis
the Northern Lights
I just stood in awe
and witnessed the most
spectacular show
of nature I have
ever seen
17 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Back in the hotel, good news
awaits us. Today the lights are
pegged at level 6, which is rare.
Shortly after dark, the phone rings
again and the same voice: Hi we
are seeing the Northern Lights.
This time I was prepared. The cam-
era was ready on the tripod and all
necessary clothing was right there.
Within 2 minutes I marched out
and chose my vantage point. There
were 2 thick dark green bands in the
sky. The bands started moving with
millions of stars in the background
and within no time the dark night
sky got converted into a stage with
a dazzling light show. The ground
lit up and suddenly you could see
all around. I, like most others, just
stood in awe and witnessed the
most spectacular show of nature
I have ever seen. The show lasted
for 5-10 min and then it reduced in
intensity. The lights continued to
dance slowly and we could see or-
ange colour also added to it faintly.
So we kept getting calls ev-
ery night, sometimes twice in the
night, sometimes while having
dinner. We saw the lights of vary-
ing intensities and shape and siz-
es. We kept taking pictures with
different angles, different frames,
star trails with the lights. I am also
told that seeing the lights 6 of the 7
nights was fascinating. It was awe-
some being up late in the night in
the bone chilling cold taking pic-
tures. Of course, we had the steady
stream of hot chocolate coming in
to keep us warm.
The drive to the Jkulsrlngla-
cial lagoon was the longest, but a
breathtaking one. We passed the
Atlantic coast through lush green
fields, snow fields, volcanic rocks
and glaciers. The weather was per-
fect. We shot videos with the go-
pro. I again, being the brilliant self
I am, tried a low angle shot by ex-
tending my arm under the window.
At this point of time the jeep was
cruising at over 100kph. We were
passing through a snow field. I was
not wearing gloves. Its a miracle
that my friend still possesses that
go-pro and I, all five fingers. Jkul-
srln is where the ice meets the
ocean. The glacier flows into the
Atlantic. The landscape was beau-
tiful with ice crystals of shades of
green and blue in the pristine blue
waters against the backdrop of
snow laden hills. This place is sup-
posed to have ice caves, however,
those caves were not accessible at
this time. It was another day when
we say a few beautiful waterfalls
and took pictures of some friendly
Icelandic horses that were happy
to pose.
One of the days we took a break
and chilled out in the hotel, enjoy-
ing the place, playing pool, loung-
ing on the deck, soaking ourselves
in the hot tubs out in the open
overlooking snowcapped moun-
tains. Went for a small cross-coun-
try walk and accidentally found
ourselves trespassing in someones
property. Got chased by horses,
jumped fences to safety and man-
aged all without getting to see the
police station. Thats the good part
of a country with such sparse pop-
ulation.
Smokin volcano
The next day was the highlight of
the trip under the sun. We were
headed towards Eyjafjallajokull,
the volcano that had caused havoc
in 2010. This was no ordinary drive.
We had to drive through miles and
miles of knee-deep snow. No roads.
No tracks, just the drivers sense of
direction and judgement. We had
a back-up jeep accompanying us.
The tyre pressure now was brought
down to 2 PSI for maximum trac-
tion and the chassis was raised.
It looked punctured. The big ma-
chine painstakingly slowly inched
and skidded its way through the
sea of snow, kept climbing up at a
steady pace. At times it would be
sunny, at times cloudy, foggy, then
there was this snowfall which start-
ed off gently and got a bit heavy.
Taking a couple of photo stops, and
after climbing up and down a few
hills, we finally reached our des-
Driving through icyscapes
18 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Travel Times
tination after about four hours of
complete disoriented driving. This
was a sight. On top of a volcano,
smoke still coming out of the earth
which was hot in many places and
snowy in all other areas. The last
few hundred feet had to be trekked
on foot. Our drivers had set up a
barbecue and it has to be the best
burger I have had in my life. The
drive back was much easier and
then there was this point where we
were on a flat land in snow and on
the horizon was the Atlantic with
the reflection of the sun, while the
sun was hidden in the clouds. Its
not often that you get to see a sight
like that.
The last day was spent in the
capital city, Reykjavik, which hosts
200,000 of the 300,000 people of
the country. Neat and clean, for a
city with such a small population,
it had almost everything a modern
city needs to have. We ate at a fancy
restaurant and walked the streets,
doing souvenir shopping and did a
bit of birding at the pond. Though
I did not see any other Indian dur-
ing the entire trip, I was delighted
to see an Indian restaurant called
Gandhi and another restaurant
where a board was displayed writ-
ten in Gujarati. These Gujjus I tell
you
So after a once-in-a-lifetime trip,
it was finally time to say goodbye.
The next day early morning I found
myself back in the Icelandair air-
craft. Leaving the country felt sad
and thats when I told myself, dont
cry because its over, Smile because
it happened. There are still many
pictures I wanted to take, places I
wanted to see, so as the plane took
off, I looked out of the window and
said, Ill be back
z Udayan Bhatta works for SAP
and manages consulting engagements for
clients in India. He is a hobbyist Wildlife
and Nature photographer and loves to
travel all over the world.
Mother Earths wonder
on display
19 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
H
ave you ever picked up
a really good book, that
had you on the edge
of your seatand you
literally couldnt put it down? I
remember as a child I would be
chastised to turn off the light and
go to bed, but I would sneak in a
flashlight, just to be able to finish
the chapter of a thrilling adventure
book.
Books have the ability to trans-
port us to any time period in the
world, to any country, and help us
imagine what it would be like to ex-
perience a different era, from a dis-
tinct viewpoint. Everyone can ap-
preciate good story-telling. While a
great story entertains us, kids who
would like to learn about another
country or culture are wise to begin
with a stack of books. When choos-
ing childrens literature to increase
global awareness, I think it is im-
portant that the books are visually
appealing, culturally accurate and
without stereotypes. Books should
be age-appropriate, engaging sto-
ries that subtly inform and show-
case new traditions and people.
Common themes
One way to begin learning about
other cultures through books is to
choose one country per month to
study. By picking stories that are
set in a specific country or region,
we begin to experience common
cultural themes, and understand
the perspectives of some of the
people from that country. To ex-
tend the learning, you can make
food from that country (especially
if there are dishes mentioned in the
book!), study the map, learn the
flag, watch video clips, and decide
to read a lot of fiction and non-fic-
tion books.
Another way you can use books
to understand about the world is to
Making of world citizens
Reading multicultural literature helps children widen their horizon
z Becky Morales
map out the settings of the books
you read. Hang up a world map in
your room, and place a marker with
the title of every book you read on
the country where it takes place.
Purposefully choose books to rep-
resent a large geographic area so
that soon your markers are spread
across the globe. This graphic or-
ganizer will help you recognize if
there are regions of the world that
you havent covered yet.
Check out fairy tales, folklore,
and fables from other cultures.
Although the storylines are diverse,
you will notice everyone has a
common need for love from family
and friends, hope and security. No
matter where the story is from, we
all possess feelings of happiness,
anger, pride, and loneliness. When
reading the fairy tales, notice how
different cultures portray and deal
with these emotions, and compare
them to how you, your family
and friends would show the same
feelings.
20 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Avoid stereotypes
In choosing multicultural litera-
ture, there are many great titles
but also some pretty awful stories
too, that perpetuate stereotypes.
When choosing books about a
certain culture, it is imperative to
make sure the story does not de-
pict indigenous characters inac-
curately or negatively, nor lump
together various tribes and people
into a general and indistinct group.
For example, there is a tendency to
erroneously teach young children
about tipi-living, feather-wearing,
tomahawk-carrying (Red) Indi-
ans. Yet, Native American people
are not static or extinct; in fact they
are contributing members to so-
ciety, with deep-rooted traditions
and values that are pertinent to
our world today. Picking a variety
of good-quality books will help to
distinguish stories that are purely
stereotypical vs stories that are
written by people of the specific
culture. Reading great books helps
to dispel misconceptions and inac-
curate stereotypes.
Curious kids
Kids around the world are curious
about their peers. Whenever we
visit a friends house, my kids in-
variably want to go see their bed-
room, their garden, their kitchen.
I have noticed the same curios-
ity when other kids come to our
house: kids wonder where we
sleep, what toys we play with, or
even what snacks we have. This
natural inquisitiveness is equalled
in adults! We can capitalize on
this curiosity by taking a fascinat-
ing picture tour of homes and kids
around the world and then talk-
ing about similarities and differ-
ences. There are many non-fiction
books that showcase children liv-
ing in different countries around
the world. For example, there are
books that talk about the differ-
ent homes both rural and urban
where families reside, different
types of schools around the world,
children of different religions and
their celebrations, traditional and
contemporary customs, and even
how children around the world
play with their friends and enjoy
life. By paging through these pho-
tographic journals, readers get a
glimpse of the life of another child
halfway across the world. Compar-
ing and contrasting the childrens
lives, and think about what makes
a home. Is it a safe gathering place
for family and friends? A shelter
from the elements, where we can
sleep comfortable and dry? A place
to prepare meals, celebrate holi-
days, play games, read books, and
enjoy our families? How are we
similar to and different than the
families around the world in the
books?
Accepting differences
Its never too early to begin instill-
ing positive attitudes about accep-
tance and tolerance in children.
Reading books about people from
other cultures will increase cultur-
al awareness, and help us become
more respectful towards people
with different backgrounds and
perspectives. The important thing
is to be exposed to those who might
be different than you, because we
will often sympathize with others
once weve become familiar with
them. Its also important, however,
to simply encourage the idea that
accepting differences is important
and that hateful behaviour is not
beneficial for anyone.
With so much violence in the
world today, it is the duty of parents
and teachers to teach our children
about compassion, showing them
kindness and respect, and giving
them examples and role models
to follow. One way to do this is to
study about great leaders who em-
body peace. It helps kids make bet-
ter decisions and learn from others
wisdom as well as from their mis-
takes. Reading biographies writ-
ten for kids, and learning about
important leaders from around the
world and challenges they have
overcome gives children examples
of character traits, perspective on
current events, and expands their
ideas about other countries. For
example, you can read wonderful
biographies written for children
of leaders such as the Dalai Lama,
Wangari Maathai, Jane Goodall, or
Nelson Mandela.
Cultural heritage
Finally, reading books about our
own cultural heritage encourages
a positive self-concept and self-
identity. Students can benefit from
reading literature that reflects their
own background because it helps
develop a healthy pride in our fam-
ily background. Whether the books
recount a historical event, a na-
tional leader, or a child hero from
another era, positive stories of our
own cultural background help us
to understand a bit of what makes
us unique and special.
Whether in a social studies class,
a multicultural unit, or simply for
enjoyment, teachers and parents
can use these literature journeys
to stimulate childrens wonder and
increase our cultural awareness
of the many different people,
cultures, and ways of life around
the world.
Becky Morales is a teacher and mom
to 4 multicultural children, and shares her
ideas of teaching kids about the world at
www.kidworldcitizen.org. She believes that
if we teach kids cultural awareness while
they are young, they will grow up to be
compassionate adults who will succeed in
our interconnected world.
21 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
L
iterature is art and although it is pass to think of books
on paper as the best medium to convey ideas, I am a
structuralist at heart; I find it difficult to accept the
black and white literature classics turned into new-age
colour films. That is why when I went to see the recently released
movie Great Expectations, it was with a feeling of trepidation.
Was there anything new the movie could offer beyond the 1998
screen version and the classic black and white British version
from 1946 directed by David Lean? The contemporary directors
deserve all the respect when they show courage to try and rein-
vent movies tackling subjects that have been made into movies
before and have a staunch base of die-hard fans who might not
take kindly to deviations.
I came back satisfied. Here was yet another version of a time-
less classic, beautifully portrayed, in spite of the presence of nay-
sayers who loudly proclaim that classics can never be remade.
The debate, however, persists. We often say we are revisiting
Under the Greenwood Tree or rereading Mayor of Casterbridge.
People who read these books for the first time put them down
with a strange feeling of having discovered something exciting
and new. They pick up the same cover one day to find themselves
lost in the same magical words on paper, albeit now full of cheeky
subtleties and hidden meanings they missed. It is a whole differ-
ent experience with the same book.
I am reminded of the following reflections of Confucius:
At fifteen I set my heart upon learning. At thirty, I planted my feet
firm upon the ground. At forty, I no longer suffered from perplexities. At
fifty, I knew what the biddings of Heavens were. At sixty, I heard them
with docile ear. At seventy, I could follow the dictates of my heart; for
what I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right
Lifes perspective
At different stages in life, a readers understanding of a story, its
character and their struggles differs depending upon the lifes
perspective from where he or she stands. Classics show us another
world outside of our own, a world now brushed with the strokes
of age and character, a world quite different from the one we
first came upon in those pages. For me, each visitation brings a
further nuance to the story, a changed commentary so that I can
hear my way through it once more. In Confuscian terms, hear-
ing the way is to cultivate oneself .
In simpler times, men read for pleasure and self-improvement.
Today they read to impress. In school, we were taught that the
classics were timeless, but it was a concept difficult for us to
grasp then. I remember it being a struggle for us poring over
pages and pages of Thomas Hardys description of nature in Tess
of the Durbervilles. Inexplicably, and in spite of myself, I fell in
love with his works. Was it the way it was taught to us? Was it
the story? Or was it simply my imagination lovingly glorifying
Tess as the perfect heroine? After twenty-five years of watching
the wheels of education turn, in spite of lessening time for leisure
in the evolving modern world, I think classics can still be used to
acquaint young readers with our literary culture and cultivate a
penchant for books; in all forms, be it paper or celluloid.
Contemporary books
Contemporary books seem exciting initially, silly a few months
later and embarrassing a year later, says my daughter, a voracious
reader of classics. A few days of dubious entertainment that will
be noted as the literary legacy of the 21st century. Writers are
commercial corporations; mediocrity is advertised as literature
and lure of lucre is what drives the industry. What our children
read will have rippling socio-cultural ramifications and it is nec-
essary we put critical accreditation to work that deserves it. Of
course, classics may represent outdated or outright regressive
schools of thought but you either define yourself in relation or
in opposition to it.
As long time literature teacher and author of Classics in the
Classroom Michael Clay Thomson so eloquently says, To be ig-
norant of humanitys most wonderful stories, metaphors and
ideas is more than a pity; it is a deprivation of joy and enlighten-
ment, a loss of brightness in life. Classics expose, to children in
particular, many of the best expressions humanity has to offer.
Ideas and thoughts, entire worlds before their time, spun into en-
grossing stories. Classical literature offers a slower pace of grati-
fication allowing the story to permeate and tasted gradually in
styles ranging from subtle to defiant. It challenges developing
minds to think, ponder and create as well as learn to discern and
differentiate. Buy your children a classic, revisit them yourself,
ponder over poetry by Tennyson, Coleridge and Shelley, write a
verse for we have been bequeathed a treasure and we must use it
to enrich our lives.
z Seema Malik
Director, Takshila Educational Society
Classics can even today be used to acquaint young readers with
our literary culture and to cultivate a penchant for books
A classic is forever
22 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
I
n a recent
interview to
Hindustan Times,
Ruskin Bond said
that his new book
My adventure with
Books describes his
childhood adventures
with books. He says,
After my father
passed away when I
was 10, I was a lonely
boy with books as my
sole friends...I always
looked for refuge
in books wherever
possible.... These feelings to some extent are definitely
echoed by all book lovers because books are indeed
a mans best friend. They lend you unconditional
company at any time, fill the vacuum and sometimes
help you create that personal space so needed by
everyone in the hustle and bustle of life these days.
Powerful effect
I strongly relate to aforesaid thought and voracious
reader that I have always been, my appetite for
books remains unsatiated even today. A question
commonly posed to all book lovers is What kind of
books do you like to read? Perhaps for many oth-
er readers this question has an apt answer but for
me I have never been able to categorise my interest
for reading into kind of books. It has always been
about the mood and the right ambience. The envi-
ronment and the ambience have a powerful effect on
a persons reading experience. The flavour of a book
can be overpowering or sometimes imperceptible
depending upon when and where you are reading
it. Each moment in time is physically characterised
by innumerable external influences like silence and
noise, dark and light, lonely or crowded or even the
temperature as in hot or cold. To add to this the emo-
tional state of a person at that particular time can
manipulate all physical activities which includes
reading. Thus the general disposition of the person,
the place and the time, all hold tremendous author-
ity over reading.
Therefore, it is safe to state that mood and ambi-
ence do have a remarkable impact on the kind of
reading it can generate. Sample this...a winter eve-
ning in a log hut in the woods, a crackling fire place,
a cup of hot coffee in the favourite mug and a never
ending book...ummm! Lo presto! The reader is trans-
ported to the very world the author was in at the time
of writing the book.
Light reading
In stark contrast is a
noisy train or a bus
with interruptions
galore. Ever thought
why magazine sell-
ers do brisk busi-
ness in a place like
this? It is because
even the most avid
reader would find
this setting irksome
for heavy reading
and would never be
able to completely absorb himself in the pages. So for
both book aficionados and those who arent too, light
reading in the form of magazines or newspapers is the
best engagement. This is a classic example of reading
for reading sake where the glossy pages and colourful
pictures occupy the mundane moments of the journey
and by the time you turn to the last page you might
have reached your destination too.
Another time, and a favourite of all readers would
certainly be bed time. A book by the bedside table
would definitely be indicative of a habit so strong that
for some it might be the unsung lullaby inviting sweet
sleep. Many sleep therapists are of the view that light
reading relaxes the brain and induces sleep. Of course,
one fighting problems of insomnia would be advised to
never take up a book with cliff hangers or tale twisters
as that would only get the adrenaline racing faster and
would be the harbinger of yet another sleepless night!
Catharsis of sorts
The ambience for reading is actually unique for every
individual. Generalisation is perhaps not possible be-
cause reading is like therapy, especially in reading a
novel. There is always a catharsis of sorts. The unin-
hibited self connects with the characters and a silent
bond of empathy is formed. You rejoice in the charac-
ters joy and wallow in its sorrow. In short, you live the
words, you live the sentences and you live the pages.
Each chapter is like a chapter in your own life. Reading
elevates you to a new high where another experience
has been gained, another life lived and innumerable
lessons learnt. But like all the good things of life, read-
ing is not mechanical. It is an emotional activity which
stimulates our senses and has the capacity to affect
our innermost sensibilities thereby bringing subtle but
positive changes in our personality every day.
z Rupa Verma, Department of English, DPS Patna
23 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
T
he 21st century is witness to a
major information revolution. Ac-
cess to information is made easy
to us by various books, magazines and
journals. With every passing moment the
requirement of information is increasing.
We can find information on almost any
subject, common or obscure on the World
Wide Web. While the information avail-
ability and access is increasing, most of
the people find that they have less time
available to complete the text they are re-
quired to read. Many a time it happens
that there are books kept in the shelves
waiting for their turn to be read and we
choose the book of more importance or of
finer details. This is at the expense of the
material that we would have liked to read
if we had time.
Speed reading allows us to read more
things in the same time. Most of us think
that speed reading reduces our compre-
hension but it is not so. Practising a few
techniques and improving the vocabulary
will help us skim through the passage
very fast. There are many factors that
contribute to the decrease in our reading
speed. Firstly, our poor eye movement,
limited perception span leading to word
by word reading, vocalization, false belief
that speed reading reduces comprehen-
sion, lack of concentration and improper
surrounding. We can reduce the effect of
these factors and therefore increase our
reading speed.
It is not a matter of a day or two; it will
require a lot of practice and positive atti-
tude. A few things that we need to prac-
tise daily. Firstly, instead of reading words
one by one we can read it in chunks or
even a full sentence. Secondly, eliminate
vocalization. We should try not to sound
out each word or in the mind. Thirdly, try
to avoid reading the text which is already
read. Last but not the least, we should al-
ways try to skim through the passage.
z Saurabh Samir, 9 I, DPS Patna
Virtual addiction
H
e comes from school, flings his school bag on the bed and runs towards
his computer. One hour passes by, two hours pass..., then three hours, and
time seems to slip away. This is the story of a typical 21stcentury child.
Playing games and chatting on the computer are the only things that figure promi-
nently in a modern childs scheme of things.
This virtual addiction has resulted in a decline in the reading habit. Only a hand-
ful of children are seen going to the library. Children think that reading involves just
mugging up your textbooks and passing the exams. But thats not the case. Children
have started judging others on their cool factor. According to their rating, someone
who reads regularly is not a part of the cool club and those who are couch potatoes
are the best. The opposite is the truth.
But why are the children being driven to this? The video games are very attractive
because of their catchy graphics and animations and children easily get addicted to
them. Once addicted, they find it hard to give up the habit. Easy access to games
through smart phones has added fuel to the fire.
How can we prevent a child from wasting his time and energy on this virtual ad-
diction? Its high time parents played their role and restricted the hours their children
spend on the computer. Besides, they should inculcate reading habits in their chil-
dren. They can do this by reading books to young children and fix a regular reading
time. Membership to libraries will also expose them to the wonderful world of books.
Last but not the least: Lead by example. Parents should pass on their love for
reading to the younger generation.
For me, reading books was a way to de-stress. It was never about gathering
knowledge. Whenever I wanted to get my mind off cricket, I would pick up books.
Thats how I developed the habit of reading.
-Rahul Dravid, Former Indian Cricket Team Captain.
z Harshul Surana & Vaanchit Srikumar, 6 C, DPS Pune
Computer vs Books
S
ome time back
books used to be
childrens best
friends. Be it fiction,
non-fiction or an ency-
clopaedia, children used
to read them with great
interest. But nowadays,
something new has
come into the picture. I
dont actually know what to call it - A
boon or a bane of science. It is multime-
dia. Computers have changed the mindset
of children. These days children dont be-
lieve in reading books...
instead, they just love
to copy-paste informa-
tion from Wikipedia
and e-books from in-
ternet. Albert Einstein
once said, Knowledge
is limited, but imagina-
tion encircles the whole
world. While books
enhance a childs imagination, computer
and television hamper it.
z Pratyush Anand, 9 F, DPS Patna
24 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
I still love books. Nothing a computer can do
can compare to a book. You cant really put a
book on the Internet. Three companies have
offered to put books by me on the Net, and I
said, If you can make something that has a
nice jacket, nice paper with that nice smell,
then well talk. All the computer can give
you is a manuscript. People dont want to
read manuscripts. They want to read books.
Books smell good. They look good. You can
press it to your bosom. You can carry it in
your pocket.
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
A
s the world becomes paperless
and floats on cloud(s) computing,
what is the future of reading?
Will the next generation miss
out on the enchanting scent of a new book,
the daunting aisles of books and that quiet
corner in a library? There are various pros
and cons to the new generation of readers.
They love e-books on the go, on an iPad
or their phones and have entire libraries
encapsulated in the palm of their hands.
Instant gratification
The iGeneration where the I could very
well stand for instant, is a generation that
does not care for the experience of brows-
ing the library bookshelves, waiting for
books to finish so that you can get new
ones issued, or longing to go home for those
elusive moments with the books on your
nightstand. But the instant gratification of
downloading a book from
the comfort of your home,
carrying every book for
every mood and whipping
it out whenever you have
time, does have its appeal.
Sarah is 24 years old
and loves to read. She
started off reading her
mothers dusty old Nancy
Drews which were care-
fully preserved for her
like an heirloom. But due
to her busy schedule she
optimizes time by reading
on the way to her work.
She deals with the con-
flict of reminiscing about
sitting in the shade of a tree and reading for
hours, eagerly going through the leaves of
the book like unfurling a flower to give its
secret and the new age impersonal, almost
mechanical way of reading while sitting in
the backseat of a car that somehow does
not capture the beauty of reading a book.
Looks good on paper
Books have a character of their own. They
are old, tattered and battered but that just
shows that they have mattered. The pages
tell their own story (no pun intended).
The coffee stains, the folded edges, forgot-
ten flowers, and the underlined bits, they
all make the experience of reading more
memorable. The feel of the written word is
incomparable to a touch screen.
On the flipside, one could argue about
the beneficial effects of using technology
instead of paper to help save trees.
Advanced technology has also simulated
many aspects of traditional reading, like
the bookmarks, putting sticky notes on the
sides or even highlighting. There are page
by page readers in the format of a book
replete with sound effects of a page turning
that makes sure that a new generation
of readers holds on to the traditional
experience of reading a book.
Charu Puri is an intern with Katha
a nonprofit organization working with
and in story and storytelling
for past 22 years.
New
Gen
Readers
z Charu Puri
Does the
youth today
prefer
e-books or
do people
still want to
read books
(and not
manuscripts
which is
what, they
say, you get on
the Internet)?
25 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
A
s a teacher it is my
pleasure to have
introduced many young
children to the joys
of literacy. But I will not go into
details about the technicalities
of reading and writing. There are
many excellent books to guide you
about this.
Instead I will tell you a few sto-
ries about my students and how
they became readers. I also wish to
start a conversation on the why
of reading.
I remember Akhtar. He was very
bright and always was the first to
assemble a stove that I had taken
apart or repair an iron or fold a
paper bird. But now he was nine
years old and still didnt want to
read. He often told me stories about
what was going on in his life and
I would write them and he would
read them back to me. But taking
a little extra time to decode story
books or voluntarily reading from
the class library did not fit into his
scheme of things. Then one day
Akhtar found an NBT book about
birds that had more print than il-
lustrations. Akhtar dragged me
into a corner and asked me to read
it to him. This time, instead of sat-
isfying his rush to know, I knew
that he knew the basics of Hindi
and so I insisted that he read it by
himself. The first page went slow-
ly as he decoded the words and I
helped him if the pace became too
slow. But everyday I insisted that
he read to me and gradually his
pace of reading improved until
he could read fluently in about 2
weeks. Akhtars written expression
also improved and he was quickly
at par with other children in his
class.
Lets analyze what may have
happened. Akhtar was very active,
vocal and perceptive child. His fa-
ther was a driver and he played in
the local fields close to the lake and
canals. His father also had a repair
shop which is why he could as-
Reading is holistic
Our goals as teachers should be to
help children become lifelong readers
z Ruth Rastogi
26 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
semble small machines so patient-
ly and accurately. His life experi-
ences were rich and varied. But
he probably did not see reading
and writing happen in his home
although he had seen it happen
at school for 4 years. He knew the
basics of Hindi and English and as
a teacher, I had been coaxing him
to read since he was six years but
it seems there is a time for every-
thing. When that time happened
he was able to pick up reading very
quickly. We often forget that moti-
vation and relevance to childrens
lives are the keys to enjoyment for
education and for life and living.
We must always remember that all
children learn at a different pace. I
doubt if Ahktar reads for pleasure
as he is now a busy entrepreneur
but he certainly has the necessary
skills to carry on his business.
I also have had a few experienc-
es teaching children who never at-
tended school until they were eight
or nine. Parshottam was the son of
labourers who worked at the fac-
tory near our school and Sanju was
the daughter of a technician at the
factory who had brought her from a
remote village. At our small school,
we always created first-hand expe-
riences and then used these expe-
riences to learn to read and write.
Unless the child has a learning dis-
ability, it is the best way to learn.
We ask the children about their
observations and then write their
replies on a chart or blackboard.
When we finish the story chil-
dren have told us, we always have
a few minutes of mini lessons, ei-
ther of phonics, grammar struc-
tures or perhaps idioms. For Par-
shottam and Sanju we also started
by keeping the alphabet chart and
barah khari beside us and having
short separate lessons starting with
their names and names of family
members. In a week I asked them
to write by themselves carefully
pronouncing the words and show-
ing the barah khari of each sylla-
ble. The rule is to keep reading and
writing relevant. When reading
lic library. Some new stories
some old stories thats the way it
should be in school also.
At Jingle Bell School in Faiz-
abad, it is common to see primary
school children choosing to read.
This does not happen overnight.
The school has made a conscious
decision to have a strong reading
and writing programme as there is
a clear understanding that reading
and writing skills lead to academic
success. This is a very slow process
that extends into middle school
and is not done in isolation. Read-
ing and writing are an integral part
of many projects, science experi-
ments and construction projects.
Books fairs are a huge success as
many children and their families
now chose to read for pleasure.
Again, lets analyze. Stories,
songs and poems have a complete-
ness and satisfaction that bits and
pieces in textbooks cannot give.
A story has an introduction that
describes a situation. It goes on to
the plot where certain incidents
happen, either good or bad. These
incidents are resolved and a con-
clusion is made. Stories also de-
pict a great variety of situations
and the language and variety is
much better than one teacher can
provide. Grammar and vocabulary
are learned in an exciting context
and many discussions can hap-
pen which help children analyze
and think. But we often get stuck
on phonics and grammar when we
should be discussing the story and
making meaning: Why did Pranav
get angry? Why did no one help
him? What do you think he should
do? And so on. Formal and short
mini lessons in spelling, vocabu-
lary and grammar in primary class-
es can happen individually when
children read and write about their
projects.
I remember another young boy
who used to come to our library.
Vachaspati would go down the
winding hill of our Himalayan vil-
and writing is relevant, learning
is meaningful and pleasant. Since
both homes did not have a culture
of reading, it is doubtful if these
children continued to read for
pleasure or for information. One
can have the satisfaction that they
would have basic skills to read of-
ficial records, and be gainfully em-
ployed.
I have also have seen some chil-
dren who learned to read very ear-
ly. My niece Geeta, has read to her
two daughters from the time they
were 6 months old. Meera was
reading fluently without much in-
struction from the time she was 5
and Varsha was reading when she
was 3 years old. I thought she had
memorized the sentences. But no, I
gave her another simple book; she
was able to read it. I pointed out in-
dividual words and she was able to
read. Both girls were in the habit
of watching Sesame Street for an
hour every morning which proba-
bly gave them an understanding of
phonics and other word segments.
Stories and songs are also an inte-
gral part of Sesame Street. My own
granddaughter at the age of 2 years
3 months can now read books by
memory. The minute I walk in the
door she makes me sit down and
read about 6 or 7 stories to her,
of her choice. She also reads to
me as she has memorized 7 or 8
books. Then again she will have
a story session after her afternoon
nap. This time I choose new books
that we have taken from the pub-
The rule is to keep
reading and writing
relevant. When
reading and writing
is relevant, learning
is meaningful and
pleasant
27 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
lage reading eagerly. I was afraid
he would fall off the edge of the
cliff! He still comes to visit when
he comes home at Deepawali and
gives much credit to that little li-
brary that gave him so much en-
joyment. He now has a PhD in
Entomology and is a Class I scien-
tist with the Central Government.
However, he wistfully wishes he
was out of it because of the politics
in his department. So literacy is no
guarantee of humanity, although it
can be.
Our goals as teachers should be
to help children become lifelong
readers. We have to educate our-
selves and no one school or cur-
riculum can ever do it for us. We
need to know how to find informa-
tion and how to separate the wheat
from the chaff as there is plenty
of nonsense in books, on the web,
and in the media. So simple decod-
ing skills are not enough. It takes
much effort and a desire to know
and an acute ability to analyze and
understand. Even then there will
always be many gray areas. Liter-
acy and education are assumed to
be good. The more, the better, just
like a bank account. How we are
educated and how we use our edu-
cation is an equally important con-
versation. A fragmented education
where we ignore the connections
to society and nature has turned
out to be destructive.
Many middle class homes do not
have a culture of reading for plea-
sure, for thinking, for discussing or
for understanding the situation of
others in our society. Many of us
are aliterate: those who can read
but choose not too. It may be that
our education was so boring that we
put away books as soon as possible
since the school of life is much
more interesting. It is most certainly
true that we gain valuable knowl-
edge and skills on the job and in
the street. It is common to meet
people who have an MA or PhD in
the humanities or science but they
have not internalized their educa-
tion or attempted
to understand the
other. At a confer-
ence at the National
Botanical Research
Institute in Luc-
know, I heard a
scientist who was
not ashamed to say
that some have to
make a sacrifice for
the sake of scien-
tific development.
Obviously he did
not include himself
in the some. This
year I was analyzing
the effects of pover-
ty with my NTT students. One very
articulate girl said that the poor
are basically lazy and do not want
to work. She was actually able to
sway four or five more girls with
her rhetoric and they also gave their
own examples. Fortunately other
members of the class were able to
refute her with their own examples
and we even got into discussions
how certain castes are privileged
compared to others. At this time I
needed a book from Tulika about
the snake boy which so sensitively
portrays the feelings of a poor boy
in a middle class school. The con-
versation was left with many more
questions than answers but it elec-
trified the class. Being literate is
much more then being able to read
and write. It must be the spring-
board for thinking and debate.
So there is a dark side to literacy.
David Orr reminds us that It is a
matter of no small consequence
that the only people who have
lived sustainably on the planet
for any length of time could not
read..My point is simply that ed-
ucation is no guarantee of decency,
prudence or wisdom. Of course
this is not an argument for igno-
rance. And obviously the suppos-
edly ignorant know a lot more than
many scientists. Literacy actually
demands much humility for the
more we know the more we realize
that we know so little.
Finally children live for the day.
They are not concerned about their
future. Today-not tomorrow- they
want to hear stories, sing songs,
enjoy poems, tell about their lives
and experiences, explore and ap-
preciate the wonders of the world.
They come to school highly mo-
tivated and wanting to learn. At
this time in their lives all learning
is integrated, holistic, playful and
sensual.
Ruth Rastogi is a paedagogy expert from
Canada who has authored several stories
for children and articles for educators. She
works with various schools to keep learning
fun, meaningful and relevant.
Our goals
as teachers
should be to
help children
become
lifelong
readers
28 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
R
eading was fun. Back in
those days when I was a
child in the 1970s. Almost
half a century back. With
about Rs 10 as pocket money, given
with strict instructions that we
were to spend it wisely (as wise as
8 year-olds could be) I wondered
how I could make it last through
the month. Pulling along my father
or mother to the bookshop, I would
gaze wistfully at the books and
magazines lined at the display
window and wonder if I could
cajole them into buying me those
delectable collections of stories.
My education, so to speak, more
than that received at my school,
was through these books and chil-
drens magazines that I devoured.
The best thing about magazines
was that as they came to my door-
Champak, a popular monthly mag-
azine for children published by
the Delhi Press Group since 1968.
The stories about animals and tales
that grandmothers told little kids
were featured in this magazine
and later, I believe, a CD was given
free of cost with a pack of Multi-
media Edition Champak. The CD
contained games and activities for
children to learn.
I remember the fantastic covers
in Chandamama, a classic Indian
monthly magazine for children,
famous for its illustrations. It also
published long-running mytho-
logical/magical stories that ran for
years. My knowledge of Indian
mythology can be attributed to this
and the Amar Chitra Kathas that
were the precursors of graphic nov-
els of today.
Growing up with
childrens magazines
Be it Champak, Nandan or Chandamama... they all
transport you to a world of kings & monsters,
ghosts & ruined monuments, school pranks & outdoor adventures
z Monika Pant
step by subscription, they did not
need to be bought like books. Ev-
ery month or fortnight as the case
may be, I would be waiting for the
postman to deliver them and then,
I would be transported to a world
of kings and monsters, ghosts and
ruined monuments, school pranks
and outdoor adventures. Myster-
ies, fairy tales, stories of pets and
about famous personalities all of
them became my favourites.
Early favourites
One of my early favourites was
Nandan and I remember wait-
ing for it and opening the page
where the puzzles and Spot the
Differences were featured. That
was my initiation into childrens
magazines. This was followed by
29 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Flights of fancy
The stories were almost always
bound by a common thread of
moral values, with a grandpar-
ents style of storytelling and were
drawn from numerous historical
and modern texts in India, as well
as from other countries. Mytholo-
gy, epics, fables, parables and even
useful hearsay were spun suitably
to feed our impressionable minds
and my mind took flights of fancy
that were coloured by the incidents
that I read. The stories of the never-
ending story of King Vikramaditya
and Vetal on his shoulder, is some-
thing that intrigued me and in each
issue, Vetala, in order to prevent the
king from fulfilling a vow, posed a
typical catch-22 question to king
Vikramaditya, involving a moral
dilemma. The wise king answered
correctly, and was thus defeated by
Vetal, forcing the king to capture
him all over again, and again.
A magazine in the humorous
vein which stood up to its name
was LotPot, a Hindi comic maga-
zine which had two brothers one
fat (Motu) and another slim (Patlu),
who were shown being involved
in silly plots and were shown as
idiots. The supporting characters
with them were Master Ghasita
Ram and Dr Jhatka. Another char-
acter was Chacha Chaudhary, who
became legendary. There were oth-
er comic strips too in it, like Jasoos
Chakram and someone, if I remem-
ber correctly, called Chirkut.
My Bengali roots also found sus-
tenance in a magazine called Sand-
esh, which, under Satyajit Ray, the
eminent film maker, and his son
Sandip Ray, became one of my fa-
vourites. By now, I was writing sto-
ries and poems myself and I was
inspired by the tales of Feluda and
Professor Shonku, penned by Saty-
ajit Ray himself. The thriller stories
and other science fiction tales such
as Mr Bankus Friend have stayed
in my mind till today.
Childrens World
The magazine which was my favou-
rite for a very long time, which had
excellent stories, articles and liter-
ary pieces was Childrens World, a
childrens magazine founded by K
Shankar Pillai, a well known car-
toonist and which became a forum
for writings by children, budding
as well as established authors. The
magazine had its beginnings in the
Shankars International Childrens
Competition, an event conducted
by him, and in 1968, he had de-
cided to publish the entries to the
competition in a weekly magazine
which became a monthly in March
1972. The illustrations were beau-
tiful and the serial stories of ad-
venture fanned my desire for good
literature. I contributed to it often
and got my first taste of being pub-
lished in print, thanks to Childrens
World. I would wait for it with im-
patience and would hug it to my
heart as I saw my name printed
in beautiful black letters under a
short story or poem.
Today, as I write my own short
stories and novels, and plan my
first childrens adventure novel, I
cannot help thinking that I owed a
lot to these magazines. They taught
me that to write for children, one
has to be one with them, have fun
rather than instruct, be absurd at
times rather than logical, be auda-
cious rather than politically cor-
rect and infuse the stories with a
certain timelessness that will take
ones breath away.
Monika Pant has authored several series
of English course books. Her short stories
and poems have been published in various
collections, including the Chicken Soup for
the Indian Soul series.
My favourite
The childrens magazine which
I like the most is Childrens
Digest. This magazine caters to
the varied interests of children
in a distinctive way.
The Catchy quotes, Great
lives, This and that and What
a word
are some
c o l u m n s
that are a
f av our i t es
of parents
as well as
teachers. The
Thought for
the month
and the facts
given in Do
you know
and Did
you know
that provide
information about things we
are familiar with but still dont
know that well.
Since I became a regular reader
of Childrens Digest I came to
know How the Banyan tree
was chosen as Indias national
tree and about the great
scientist Sigmund Freud.
The crossword, Slylock fox,
Try it, True or false type of
puzzles and Fun with words
make the children put on their
thinking caps.
A leaf out of literature, a
part of famous classics gives an
overview about the book and
creates interest in children to
read. In every way this maga-
zine is a hundred pages of trea-
sure and each page is a gem.
z Kaveri V
Resource Centre In-charge
DPS Coimbatore
I owed a lot to these magazines. They taught me that to
write for children, one has to be one with them...
30 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
W
e all know Jaipur
is called the Pink
City, and that it is
Rajasthans capital.
But do you know this city is the
venue for one of the worlds largest
literature festivals? Since 2005, every
January, the Diggi Palace hotel has
been hosting the Jaipur Literature
Festival, or JLF. This annual event
is the initiative of an organisation
called the Jaipur Virasat Foundation.
What makes this festival so big and
beautiful is the number of eminent
writers it sees every year and the
huge crowds that throng the lawns of
the 18th century palace, to see them
involved in animated discussions.
The latest edition of the event saw
about 300 authors as participants
and 150 poets, musicians and
dancers, and about 2 lakh visitors in
just five days!
In the past of couple of years,
Jaipur Literature Festival had the
presence of some of the worlds
best writers and eminent person-
alities. These include Booker win-
ner JM Coetzee, Tibetan leader Da-
lai Lama, media personality Oprah
Winfrey, scientist and atheist Rich-
ard Dawkins, thinker Steven Pink-
er, Jnanpith Award winner Mahas-
weta Devi, eminent writers Salman
Rushdie, Pico Iyer, Ruskin Bond
and many more. What more could
lovers of literature ask for! Apart
from focussing extensively on lit-
erature in English, the festival also
highlights works in languages such
as Bhojpuri, Maithili, Rajasthani,
Santhali, Hindi, Spanish, French,
Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Sanskrit,
Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Malayalam,
Kannada and many others. It cel-
ebrates the diversity of literature.
Humble start
It all started in 2005 in a very
humble way. Two writers,
William Dalrymple and Namita
Gokhale, got together to form a
platform for writers of all hues
to come together and talk about
their love literature. They got
in touch with their friends and
fellow writers. But the first year
saw only a few dozen people as
writers and barely a hundred
people as visitors. But peoples
love for literature (and to talk
about it like there is no tomorrow)
kept the spirits raging. From a
couple of halls, the festival has
been expanded to six separate
venues within the palace. Hear
what Dalrymple has to say: In
2006, we had a big enough crowd
nearly to fill the Diggi Durbar
Hall. About four hundred people
came in 2007. But in 2012, we
had 1,20,000 footfalls!
His words remind one of what
Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov
(1899-1977) once said: Literature
and butterflies are the two
sweetest passions known to man.
This passion kept writers and
enthusiasts flocking to taverns,
schools, halls and even meadows
to talk about their love, meet
new talent and enjoy the love of
their readers. With the growth in
Blend of literature
and tourism
The Jaipur Festival is one of the
worlds largest literature festivals
z Radhika KTP
31 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
printing and publishing, books
became extremely popular and
book festivals started becoming a
happy trend. Today, several such
gatherings are held around the
world. And most of these events are
witnessing a multitude of writers,
publishers, reviewers, printers,
book distributors, illustrators and
common readers. Some of these
festivals are really important,
namely the Hay-on-Wyne festival
in the UK, the Melbourne Writers
Festival in Australia, Ubud Writers
& Readers Festival in Indonesia,
besides others. In 2013 alone,
some 30 such festivals are to be
held in South Asia alone.
Even in India, apart from the JLF,
there are several small and big lit-
erary festivals going on throughout
the year. Some important ones are:
the Hay festival in Kovalam, Kera-
la; the Hindu Lit for Life festival in
Chennai; and the Apeejay Kolkata
Literary Festival. Even our neigh-
bour Bhutan hosts an important lit-
erary festival Siyahis Mountain
Echoes literary festival.
DSC Prize
In India, literary gatherings have
been in existence for long. Several
regional languages have had such
meetings quite frequently. Writ-
ers in languages such as Kannada,
Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam and
Bhojpuri have been part of literary
meetings like the JLF, even though
they lacked the size and scale of the
Jaipur gala. As part of the festival,
there is another event that catches
a lot of attention: the DSC Prize
for South Asian Literature. This
$50,000 prize goes to the best writ-
ing from the South Asian region.
The DSC Prize was instituted in
2010 by its founder Surina Narula.
The Jaipur festival has become
a pioneer in several ways. It suc-
cessfully blended tourism and lit-
I dont think so
Any gathering of literary buffs is a venue of fun and frolic too. The Jaipur Literature Festival is no exception.
Here, often, the most hilarious comments come from the sidelines. Heres a sample: Turkish novelist Orhan
Pamuk visited the festival in 2011. His session attracted a huge crowd; mainly youngsters. A small group
of students was also part of the crowd this time, but it appeared they were in the wrong place. When
Pamuk started talking, the crowd started responding with laughter, encore and waves of claps. Observing
the sweet commotion keenly, a little girl from the group asked her friend, Whos this guy? Looks like
a big writer, replied her equally enthused friend. But she was not convinced. I dont think he is a great,
famous writer, said she. Why? Because I havent heard about him! pat came the reply.
The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts
Hay-on-Wye is often called the town of books.
It is a small market town in Powys, Wales. The
town, which has more than 30 interesting book
shops, is located on the bank of the famous
River Wye and falls within the Brecon Beacons
National Park. It has become a pet destination
for book lovers in the UK and abroad. The Hay
Festival, held annually here, runs for 10 days,
from the end of May to beginning of June.
It used to be held at a variety of venues in
the town, including the local primary school.
But since 2005, it has moved to a big centre
outside the town. Like the Jaipur Festival, the
Hay Festival also includes music and dance
events, and even flm previews. It also has
childrens festival called Hay Fever! The festival
has become so popular that it now has several
sisters in other parts of the globe, including
Nairobi, Dhaka, Zacatecas, The Maldives,
Beirut, Belfast, Cartagena, the Alhambra
Palace, Parc Prison in Bridgend and Segovia.
32 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
erature and showed heritage towns like Jaipur can at-
tract revenues by marrying such art events with tourist
objectives. Yes, Jaipur attracts a lot of tourists every
year, and the literature festival has just helped the city
make more money out of this increased flow of literary
tourists. So the next time you plan your holiday, book
a slot for Jaipur in the month of January and make sure
you do not miss the Jaipur Literature Festival.
Radhika KTP is a science & technology journalist.
Melbourne Writers Festival
This festival started in 1986 in, as the name suggests,
Australias Melbourne. A joint initiative between
the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts
and the city of Melbourne, this event has become
a very important event in the citys art life. Bali,
as you probably know, has a historical connection
with India and Hindus form around 90% of
its population. It attracts hundreds of writers,
publishers and people in the publishing industry.
It also attracts several playwrights, poets, flm
script writers, media persons, lyricists and bloggers.
The program includes discussions, readings, flm
screenings, interviews, musical performances,
workshops and book launches. The event also
focuses on writings and art from Australias various
ethnic communities. Of course, there are several
programmes for children as well! Its getting more
and more popular. In 1992, the festival saw more
than 10,000 attendees, and by 2012, this number
has grown to about a lakh.
Ubud Writers & Readers Festival
In 2013, this interesting festival from Indonesia
celebrates its 10th anniversary. It is one of the most
popular and renowned literature gatherings in
Southeast Asia. This year, it will be held from 11-15
October in Ubud, Bali. The main sessions are held
at Left Bank, Indus restaurant and Neka Museum
in Sanggingan in Ubud. There are other venues
including The Four Seasons, Maya Ubud, Casa Luna
and Alila. Most sessions are conducted in English,
but there are several bi-lingual programmes, which
feature Bahasa Indonesia, the national language
of Indonesia. This festival is also known for its
childrens programmes. It hosts several creative
programs for children and teenagers.
Inherited habit
I
can proudly say that
I inherited the habit
of reading from my
father. He exposed me
to his tin trunk stacked
with Hardy Boys, Agatha
Christie and the likes.
When I was in the pre-primary grade, my
aunt gifted me fairy tales with 3D images.
This fascinated me as it transported me to a
realm outside my imagination.
Another great influence has been my
grandmother who has been a teacher for
over four decades. She firmly believes that
a childs best friend ought to be books. I was
gifted my first story book by her when I was
in the fourth grade. It was Black Beauty by
Anna Sewell. The black horse on the cover
enchanted me so much that before I knew, I
was already halfway through it.
I vividly remember the characters of Gin-
ger and Sir Oliver and the various masters that
Beauty had to live under. But what is etched
in my memory is the lesson that Beautys
mother taught her which is very much the
same that my mother doles out from time to
time. I would like to conclude with some lines
from the story which is very relevant in my
life because they are being drilled into me by
my parents.
There are a great many kinds of men;
there are good, thoughtful men like our mas-
ter, that any horse may be proud to serve; but
there are bad, cruel men, who never ought to
have a horse or dog to call their own. I hope
you will fall into good hands; but a horse
never knows who may buy him, or who may
drive him; it is all a chance for us, but still I
say, do your best wherever it is, and keep up
your good name.
z Geet Sinha, 6 H, DPS Patna
33 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
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35 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
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z jpuk ok".ksZ;] fgUnh foHkkx] Mh-ih-,l- iq.ks
Born readers
A
great man once said, Not
all readers are leaders, but
all leaders are readers.
The statement implies that any-
body who has a streak of leader-
ship i.e. tendency to take initia-
tive, lead the discussions and
take up responsibilities as and
when the situation demands has
to have a habit of finding time to
read something concrete and use-
ful. Some kids are born readers;
others have the passion awakened
in them. No matter how busy one
may be, but one must find time for
reading.
There are many little ways to
broaden a childs world, and love
of books is the best of all. It has
been researched and agreed upon
that children are more likely to
become good readers if they start
school after polishing their oral,
cognitive, phonological aware-
ness, letter knowledge and there
is enough motivation to learn.
The first teacher of every child
is the mother whose love, care,
singing of lullabies and prayer
songs help in shaping the initial
habits in an infant. Parents who
read to their children at bed time
help in inculcating this habit. To
take it a step further is to provide
children with enough reading ma-
terial appropriate to their age and
encourage them to read them thor-
oughly.
The personality of an individu-
al takes shape from what he eats,
what he reads and the company
he keeps. Books have to be one
constant companion to channel
ones energy. Books are said to be
mans best friend.
Born and avid readers have vast
storehouse of knowledge and vo-
cabulary. They are able to express
themselves better and are able to
understand and handle real life
situations better. They are suc-
cessful in handling different re-
lationships and in life, generally.
They keep themselves updated
and move with fast changing
times.
Born readers have fertile imagi-
nation which helps them in visu-
alizing any situation and finding a
solution to it. They can participate
in all sorts of conversations which
help them to mingle with people,
and not feel out of place in any
gathering. They have something
concrete and meaningful to put in
and are appreciated for it. Their
presence is acknowledged which,
in turn, boosts their confidence
further.
Born readers certainly have an
edge over those who do not read.
z Bhavya Jindal, 6 C, DPS Ludhiana
36 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
D
uring a Meet the Author
session at a school the
other day, a girl asked
in all earnestness, What
is the first thing I need to do in
order to become a good writer? My
answer was as it always is: Read,
read and read!
This is the advice I always share
with any aspiring writer who ap-
proaches me. Its the first tip I give
out in my creative writing work-
shops too, because it seems quite
obvious to me if you dont read
books how are you going to write
them? Another question children
often ask is, How did you become
a writer? And I reply, One day I
ran out of reading matter. I decided
to try making up my own.
This is how it actually happened.
I had never consciously planned
to become a writer, I just became
one. The impulse to write fiction
sprouted very naturally from all
the stories I had read.
Folk & fairy tales
But how did I become such an avid
reader? The credit goes entirely to
my parents. My connection with
books was made when I was barely
three, I think. My mother used to
read to me from a big, thick book
full of fairy tales and poems, a book
with glossy pages and beautiful
pictures. She used to tell me sto-
ries at bedtime too. The book she
read from contained the European
fairy tales collected by the Grimm
brothers, while the stories she nar-
rated were folk tales from our own
tradition, so I had the best of both.
Some of my earliest and most
pleasant memories of my father
are also associated with reading.
A busy doctor, on a Sunday morn-
ing when he was relaxing with
a cup of coffee, I would perch on
his lap while he read out the Brer
Rabbit tales and Phantoms adven-
tures from the comic strips that ap-
peared in The Illustrated Weekly,
the most popular magazine at that
time. Soon I was eager to handle
books on my own, to begin reading
myself.
I grew up in a small town in Ut-
tarakhand where the first book-
shop opened when I was around
twelve and books were not as read-
ily available as they are now. Still,
my two younger brothers and I
managed fairly well. My parents,
who were far from well-off, never
thought twice about the expense
when it came to ordering books.
An aunt who lived close by had
an excellent collection and we
borrowed books like Alice in Won-
derland, Gullivers Travels, Little
Women and What Katy Did and a
whole series of Walter Scott novels
from her. My mother taught at the
local government girls school and
Reading is the
creative centre of
a writers life
z Deepa Agarwal
Deepa Agarwal is the author of around
50 books, mostly for children but also for
adults. She has received many awards for
her writing.
Read
Books
to
Write
Books
37 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
no matter how unlikely it might
sound today, given the condition
of government schools, there were
wonderful books both in English
and Hindi in the library. The mu-
nicipal library had a good stock as
well, mostly of classics. And when
it became common knowledge that
I was a bookworm, I got plenty of
books as gifts. I went to boarding
school at the age of seven and there
I gained access to books by popular
authors like Enid Blyton, Angela
Brazil and the Billy Bunter series.
As I grew up, my obsession with
books grew along with me. There
was a time when I couldnt go any-
where without a book, carrying one
like my security blanket. I discov-
ered the Russian classics but also
Agatha Christie and the westerns
my brothers devoured. I read Tago-
re and Premchand along with Du-
mas, Jane Austen and Erich Maria
Remarque. A host of writers too
many to list here.
Self-discovery
How did all this reading lead to
writing? This is something hard to
explain. All I can say is that I be-
lieve that after devouring a large
number of books, a special moment
of self-discovery arrives. A brilliant
thought sparks in your head: May-
be I can write a book too! And you
hesitantly take the first step.
This is where all the books you
have read work their magic. You
find that you are already knowl-
edgeable about the logic of a story.
You have unconsciously absorbed
the intricacies of creating a plot, of
developing credible characters, of
writing dialogue that will ring true.
You understand the importance of
description in your story and you
probably have a fair idea of pacing
as well. I am not saying everything
comes out perfect the first time
or every time, but you do know
enough to make a good start. You
also care enough to keep at it when
its not flowing easily. And thats
what being a writer is about.
I recall the first short story I wrote
when I was nineteen or twenty. Not
being very ambitious, I wrote it just
to see what I could do and didnt
try to get it published. Many years
later my husband discovered it in
a drawer at my parental home and
pronounced it as readable as any
he had encountered in a book. He
sounded quite serious. That defi-
nitely gave me a big boost when I
began to contemplate a career in
writing.
A passion for reading gave me
access to a large variety of books.
When I ran out of reading matter, I
didnt mind poring over a diction-
ary surely a beneficial exercise
for a future writer! But I sincerely
believe that a wide range in read-
ing has made me versatile in my
writing.
In the Childrens Book Forum
I help to run at the India Habitat
Centre in New Delhi, we introduce
children to new books. We often
follow the reading session with a
writing activity, because we know
reading and writing go hand in
hand.
I would like to end with a quote
from celebrated author Stephen
Kings fascinating memoir On Writ-
ing one of my favourite books
on the art. King says: If you dont
have time to read, you dont have
the time (or the tools) to write.
Simple as that. Reading is the cre-
ative center of a writers life.
This is what I too believe.
38 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
T
he teaching of reading
during early childhood
when attitudes, habits
and skills acquire life-
long foundations assumes
crucial significance for the efficient
functioning of democracy.
Literacy is the foundation of
school education but in our coun-
try the term literacy' is used almost
exclusively in the context of adults.
This is not surprising, given the
embarrassingly large share of India
in the global count of adults who
can neither read nor write. Why In-
dia's share has not dwindled signif-
icantly is partly related to the fact
that the years spent by children in
primary schools do not necessarily
make them literate.
Many who acquire a tenuous
grip on literacy during those years
fail to retain it in the absence of
opportunities to read, compound-
ed by elimination from school
before completing the upper pri-
mary classes. Even in the case of
those who acquire lasting literacy,
schooling fails to impart the urge
to read as a matter of habit. Those
who learn to perceive reading as a
means to expand knowledge and
awareness are a minority. Sensa-
tional surveys of children's poor
performance in reading tests throw
little light on the deeper problems
that the teaching of reading in In-
dia suffers from. If these problems
are not addressed in an institution-
alised manner, the newly enacted
law on the right to education will
remain ineffective.
Millennia-old
practices
The ability to decipher isolated let-
ters of the alphabet is not a prom-
ising beginning in the child's prog-
ress towards becoming literate.
However, this is precisely what
conventional wisdom tells teachers
to focus on. The wisdom is based
on millennia-old practices which
enabled a few children to become
literate. When we apply this wis-
dom today, we forget that the
method worked in a socio-cultural
context which was altogether dif-
ferent from our context now. When
literacy was confined to a thin up-
per strata of society, the teacher de-
manded from his wards a mastery
over letters and sounds for its own
sake. It took years to acquire such
mastery, and the methods used to
ensure it included oppressive drills
and a punitive regime that can have
no place today. When people feel
nostalgic about traditional educa-
tion, they forget that it was based
on a view of childhood few would
approve today. Moreover, the tradi-
tional system had no intention to
cover all children. The methods
it used for the teaching of reading
are unsuitable for a universal sys-
The practice of democracy
assumes both the habit and
the capacity in all citizens
to engage with matters
which transcend personal or
immediate reality
z Krishna Kumar
39 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
tem of education. The traditional
approach does not recognise the
child's nature and agency, nor does
it respect individual differences.
New approach
The traditional methods are in-
compatible with the modern psy-
chology of childhood and the
knowledge available today on the
acquisition of language-related
skills. Contemporary expertise is
based on the premise that children
have a natural drive to explore and
understand the world; hence, read-
ing should give them the opportu-
nity to make sense of printed texts
from the beginning. Making sense'
as an experience involves relating
to the text, generating a personal
engagement and interpretation. If
children are not encouraged to re-
late to the text, or if the text they
are given has little meaning or rele-
vance, the outcome will be a crude
kind of literacy, which will remain
isolated from their intellectual and
emotional development.
If this wider meaning of reading
is applied to make an assessment,
our system of primary education
will arouse far greater concern than
children's test scores in achieve-
ment surveys do. Persistent effort
under the pressure to perform does
make children capable of reading
aloud a written text, but they fail
to find any meaning in it. And the
ability to decipher a text mechani-
cally does not encourage children
to actively look for new texts to
read. The anecdote narrated by
Chinna Chacko, a former member
of the NCERT, in a paper she pre-
sented at the International Reading
Association in 1971 continues to
hold true. When she asked a child
to read aloud, he asked: With the
text or without the text? Reflect-
ing on the methods used in Indian
schools for teaching children how
to read, Chinna Chacko wrote:
Many things are done the same
way they have been done for cen-
turies and, as a result, our primary
teacher-training schools and pri-
mary schools are like museums in
which old ways are carefully pre-
served.
Museum-mentality
The cost of this museum-mentality
is high, if we take into account the
role that a reading public plays in
a democratic order. The practice of
democracy assumes both the habit
and the capacity in all citizens to
engage with matters which tran-
scend personal or immediate real-
ity. We can call it the metaphysics
of daily life under modernity. It
compels every member without
exception to share a collective
anguish and to respond to it in one
way or another. Engagement with
this expanded universe cannot be
sustained without the tools of lit-
eracy, in addition to and not as
a substitute of the oral means of
interaction. In this model, reading
efficient functioning of democracy.
This perspective implies drastic
changes in the currently practised
pedagogy of reading in pre-schools
and the primary classes. Instead of
letter-recognition and mechanical
decoding, pedagogic effort must
focus on building bridges between
words and meanings, and on nur-
turing an interpretive stance from
the earliest stage. This kind of ped-
agogy requires meaningful texts
and a sustained use of children's
literature. The texts used for the
teaching of reading should treat the
child with dignity, showing respect
for the child's inner drive to inter-
pret and relate. The sociology of the
text content is equally important.
We need texts that make children
excited about the social and cul-
tural diversity that they encounter
in their ethos. We also need kind
and affectionate teachers who are
themselves habitual readers and
can encourage each child to per-
ceive reading as a means to pursue
his or her own interest.
NCERT's role
A 40-part series of books for be-
ginner readers, published by the
NCERT, successfully responds to
these various expectations. En-
titled Barkha, this series was pre-
pared by the department of early
literacy and libraries under a spe-
cial project of Sarva Shiksha Ab-
hiyan. The little books included
in this series mark several inno-
vations, including those in design
and illustration, and not just in the
conception of child-centred nar-
ratives. In place of the usual pa-
tronising attitude towards children
that we see in educational litera-
ture, the Barkha books present real
children, doing the kinds of things
ordinary children do at home and
in the neighbourhood. A radical
attempt has been made in these
books not just to move away from
stereotypes, but to challenge them.
It is the first time in India that a
graded reading series, with a liter-
Persistent effort
under the pressure
to perform does
make children
capable of reading
aloud a written
text, but they
fail to find any
meaning in it
serves as more than a skill; it be-
comes an aspect of culture. It must
enable citizens to reflect on what
is going on, not merely a skill to
decipher printed texts. From this
larger perspective, the teaching of
reading during early childhood
when attitudes, habits and skills
acquire life-long foundations ac-
quires crucial significance for the
40 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
ary approach to reading, has been
introduced. The early literacy de-
partment of the NCERT, which cre-
ated this series, has been working
with several State governments,
encouraging them to develop simi-
lar material in their languages and
to train teachers to adopt the imag-
inative approach to reading what
Barkha represents.
Strangely enough, the NCERT
has decided to close down the de-
partment that was promoting this
approach. This is not the first time
in India, or within the NCERT it-
self, that a distinct attempt to focus
on reading and libraries has been
prematurely abandoned. Institu-
tional vicissitudes are much too
common to require comment. One
can only hope that the Ministry of
Human Resource Development,
which controls the NCERT, will re-
view this decision and restore early
literacy's academic identity.
Institutional
leadership
Strong institutional leadership is
required to motivate State govern-
ments, NGOs and private publish-
ers to take children's literature, es-
pecially its neglected aspects like
design and illustration, seriously.
The illustration copied here from a
children's book recently published
by the National Book Trust shows
how insensitive even a reputed
publishing house can be towards
violence on women. After decades
of advocacy for gender-sensitive
material for children, the larger
scenario remains quite alarming.
Many NGOs have now taken to
publishing for children, and in the
absence of expert guidance and in-
stitutionalised review processes,
they are churning out poor quality
material, often with explicit ideo-
logical bias. State governments
purchase such material with the
copious funds that the SSA pro-
vides for classroom libraries. The
NCERT does need to play a leader-
ship role in this anarchic scene.
Former NCERT director Krishna Kumar is
professor of education at Delhi University.
Noted for his writings in sociology and
history of education, he has also written
essays and short stories in Hindi.
Good readers are good learners
T
odays statistics, more often than not,
indicate how the new generation is more
inclined towards gadgets, and has no time
to read books. The adults often complain
of how their work leaves them with no time, and
no energy for a job as easy as that of reading a book.
To this I say, if you love something, you'll find the
time for it. And the love for reading can be in-born
or inculcated. Inculcating a love for reading books
and understanding them begins at a young age. Born
readers are lucky, because they imagine, and the one
who imagines, conquers the world.
A good book will transport you to another world,
where you can forget your life's miseries and expe-
rience what the characters feel. Somehow, it relates
to your life, and you find your solace in the heros
achievements. Some people say reading is a boring
task, but that can be because of two reasons. Either,
they are not able to understand the language well,
and thus, are discouraged from reading, or because
they are unable to grasp what the author wants to put
across. Or sadly it can just be the fact that they con-
sider it a waste of time, because they are bereft of the
reading bug!
Yet for those of us who have been bitten by the read-
ing bug, reading is the most popular hobby. Books
open up the windows to the areas which would have
remained hidden. Reading books also helps us widen
our horizons. They tell us how to lead a healthy life,
have good relations with people around us and about
remote areas of the world. Reading helps us overcome
loneliness and fill our time fruitfully. People often
read books while waiting their turn at the doctors
clinic, railway station or even in an amusement park.
They also read while travelling.
Their reading habit gives them knowledge about
living a safe and happy life, thus giving them a con-
trol on themselves and their surroundings. Had it not
been for reading there would not have been Thomas
Alva, Edison, Isaac Newton, Graham Bell and many
more. Hence, there would not have been telephone,
electric bulb or any light in our lives.
Eventually it is books which will deliver us from
the narrow confines of existence and open up new
vistas for us to explore.
z Gurpartap Singh Gill, 7 B, DPS Ludhiana
41 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
N
o matter how much you
appreciate all kinds of
literature, there is al-
ways one book, one
character or series that catches
your attention and holds it. For
many in the world over, that book,
character and even series is the
Harry Potter series.
Every fantasy-loving kid must be
familiar with that slim, spectacled
teenage wizard who has a historic
scar on his forehead shaped like a
lightning thunderbolt Harry Pot-
ter, also famous as The Boy Who
Lived. Millions of people across
the world have been mesmerised
by the fiction series created by JK
Rowling. Undoubtedly, she is the
woman who has been given the
credit for giving children back their
childhood, especially in the time of
video games, movies and the giant
of them all, the Internet.
For many, from the very first
page, Harry Potter had a magical
hold on the reader. Indeed, the first
chapter of Harry Potters first book
is the most troublesome, since it
introduces many characters in one
go. But as the pages turn, the series
unfolds into a tale that is as simple
as it is enthralling, with characters
that are commonplace, yet so very
significant. The books are the epit-
ome of the adjective unputdown-
able. Indeed, the series will be-
witch you so powerfully that there
will be times when you suspect
whether the books have some real
magical powers at all.
The reason why the series at-
tracted many children at the time
of its release was its striking simi-
larity to their own school life. Har-
ry, his two best friends Ron and
Hermione went through the very
same problems that their readers
faced: exams, fierce competition,
peer rivalry and even nasty teach-
ers.
Yet, the books are so much more
than that.
Apart from inculcating the love
of reading in an entire generation
and more, the books have been
celebrated as an excellent charac-
ter building exercise. Each of the
main character has a virtue which
emerges as a winning point for
him or her. Harry with his bravery
42 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
and grit, Rons unwavering loyalty,
Hermione with her intelligence,
patience and friendship. This, es-
pecially at a time when television
programs thrive on reality shows
and back-biting. The golden trio
of Harry, Ron and Hermione, their
togetherness and absolute trust in
each other tells us that there is noth-
ing more beautiful than friendship.
Harry Potter is as much a childrens
tale as it is a book for adults having
everything from love, hatred, sacri-
fice, humour and, of course, pure
gripping adventure.
The books not only introduce
children to great writing, but also
provoke them to read more of their
kind. The books' blend of simple
entertainment with the qualities of
literary fiction is one of its kinds.
As Stephen King says, Harry Pot-
ter will indeed stand times test
and will wind upon a shelf where
only the best are kept. I think Har-
ry will take his place with Alice,
Huck, Frodo and Dorothy. This is
one series not just for the decade,
but for the ages.
The seven-book series is that one
thing that pleases both children and
adults alike. The lucid language,
the parallel universe and the amaz-
ing storyline guides us through
seven years of Harry's life, and at
every turn of the page, makes us
cry our eyes out and laugh at some
really good jokes. Harrys turbulent
growing up years, his choices and
his character is portrayed through
the various adventures he encoun-
ters. The books systematically be-
come darker as Harry grows in age
and his arch-nemesis Voldemort
grows in power. But the entire saga
is as riveting from the first page to
the last.
One sad point to be noted
is that half of the millions of
Harry Potter (HP) fans have
only watched the HP movie
series and have never bothered
to read any of the books. They
truly have missed the complete
magical journey of a lifetime.
Indeed, movies have the same
concept and story but in movies,
one watches the imagination of
the director come alive on the
screen. The book is chopped to
fit the screen time. On the other
hand, in the books you actually
live the tale; you are with the boy
hero at every stage of his epic
journey.
No matter if the series has now
ended, and we know the story
front-to-back, we can still go
through the books and relive the
moments. Because, one is never
too old for Harry Potter!
z Akanksha Choudhary, 11 C
Aarti, 10 I, Riya Singh &
Mayank S Choudhary, 9 G (all DPS Patna)
and Mokshlakshmi Bhan, 9 B, DPS Ludhiana
Potter Facts
z Joanne Rowling, also known as Jo Rowling, wrote the first book at the
Elephant Caf in Edinburgh.
z The book has been translated into 67 languages like Welsh, Hindi,
Bengali and Afrikaans and many more. The first two books have also
been translated into Latin and ancient Greek.
z JK Rowlings headmaster at St Michael, Alfred Dunn has been the
inspiration for the character of Albus Dumbledore.
z There is no such castle as Hogwarts but the inspiration was from Ed-
inburgh castle, Alanwick Castle and Christ Church Cathedral.
z The magical terms in the books have been taken from around the
world including India.
z The most lethal unforgiveable killing curse spell Avada Kedavra
has been taken from Aabra Ka Dabra.
z There are a total of 146 spells in Harry Potter books.
43 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
I love Sherlock Holmes
S
herlock Holmes is a fic-
tional detective created by
Scottish author Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle. The stories
are based in London. Holmes is a
skilled investigator with keen ob-
servation powers and all the cases
of Sherlock Holmes are narrated by
his friend Dr Watson in every ad-
venture. The story provides us de-
tailed information about the crime
scene, the crime, and the dead per-
son. Reading the details one can
visualise what Watson sees when
he accompanies Holmes during his
investigation and thus helps the
reader to try and solve the case si-
multaneously. His stories are also
full of red herrings (false clues)
which only add to the mind bog-
gling aspects of the plot.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was so
good at narrating that some people
thought that Sherlock Holmes was
real and they went searching for
him in Scotland Yard, Baker Street,
221 B. But in reality Baker Street
didnt exist.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has
written many stories in the Sher-
lock Holmes series but the one I
liked the most was The Hound of
Baskerville.
It is a story about a family called
Baskerville which was cursed. The
story tells us about the hound of
Baskerville, a dog which was sup-
posed to kill the heir of the Basker-
ville Hall. Sherlock Holmes was
given the case to solve the myste-
rious death of Sir Charles Basker-
ville. At some point it seemed like
the curse and the hound was real
but Holmes proved it wrong and
caught the mastermind behind it.
The hound was just a facade to kill
all the Baskervilles and take the
Baskerville Hall. Stapleton, the an-
tagonist was a half Baskerville. But
because of being a half Baskerville
he was not given the Baskerville
Hall and thus he changed his name
and conspired a plot. The book is
fantastic. I was glued to it. Even
after a century it has not lost its
charm.
Many people take pride in own-
ing the complete collection of Sir
Arthur Conan Doyles works. Sher-
lock Holmes is a very exciting read
and I would suggest it to all my
friends. Apart from the thrill that
I experienced reading Sherlock
Holmes, these books gave me a
keener perspective. It introduced
me to the heights of human intel-
ligence and acute powers of obser-
vation. Surely, time spent reading
Conan Doyle was time well spent
as it broadened my horizon. As it is
aptly said by the eminent academic
S.I Hayakawa:
It is not true that we have only
one life to live, if we can read, we
can live as many lives and many
kinds of life as we wish
z Abdullah Md Ali Khan,
8 A, DPS Patna
Will we be as wise as our elders?
F
or students, books suddenly gain
significance only during the in-
numerable exams we have to take
throughout our life.
However, two generations back, things
were different. Despite taking all such
examinations, most of our grandparents
still read a variety of books starting from
mythologies, novels, biographies, autobi-
ographies... the list of genres is endless. I
am sure this is the reason why they are so
wise and I wonder whether this wisdom
will ever be ours when we are their age.
Reading is limited to our course books
which just cater to exams. In a hurry of
reaching the workplace or school in time,
people hardly ever flip through the news-
papers. They prefer television. The bur-
den of extra assignments and addiction
to video games has robbed the children
of their reading habits and creativity. The
elders are also stressed out after work and
never look upon reading as relaxation. To
be an all-rounder reading is vital. If we re-
fer to books only for specific assignments
we acquire only half knowledge which
can be dangerous sometimes.
Today almost all children, even of ju-
nior classes, know about a variety of video
games available in the market. The latest
versions of play stations, Battleship, X-
Box seem to have captured the fancy of
the younger generation. Most of them are
addicted to video games, which distracts
them from studies. Even from the health
point of view, the long term effects can be
disastrous. It can strain the eyesight and
lead to problems due to wrong sitting
postures. Worst still, it can have psycho-
logical impact, as it takes young minds to
a make-belief world.
While Bladestorm, Crysis, and other
games are on their lips, most children
have never heard of Charles Dickenss
Great Expectations, Louisa Alcotts Little
Women or Jules Vernes Around the World
in 80 Days. These books are read only if
they are included in the syllabus and nev-
er for enjoyment.
Think about it. An hour a day (1/24th
part) devoted to reading could undo the
ignorance of your past; make your present
brighter and definitely your future, wiser!
z Shreeja, 8 G, DPS Patna
44 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
S
tudents of classes IV, V,
VI and VII were asked to
name their favourite book
and also mention what
makes the novel special. Each
student was required to fill details
in a given format that listed their
favourite novel, its author and
they were asked to cite reasons
for liking it. Approximately a total
of 990 students were the focus to
collect inputs to give an insight
into what persuades them to pick
up a book and what influences
their preferences.
The voracious readers found it
difficult to single out one novel as
their all-time favourite. Their pas-
sion for reading made them enlist
three to four much loved novels.
Not astonishingly, there were also
those who made no bones about
not liking the idea of passing time
with a book. The frank ones did not
list any as their favourite.
Findings: Interestingly, the range
of books grew with the age of the
students. By and large, all the
students, with their ages ranging
from nine years to twelve-thirteen,
seemed to have common interests
as most of them chose the same
novels.
z The Geronimo Stilton Books
and Jeff Kinneys The Wimpy Kid
Diaries are by far the most popu-
lar preferred reading for all age
groups.
z The students listed an assort-
ment which included Roald
Dahls Matilda, Great Glass El-
evator and Charlie and the Choc-
olate Factory; Enid Blytons
Famous Five series, Secret
Seven series and Malory
Towers series; Percy Jack-
son Book Series by Rick
Riordan, JK Rowlings Harry
Potter series and RL Stines
Goosebumps.
z There definitely was a
mention of the conventional,
evergreen classics Alice in
Wonderland by Lewis Carroll,
Charles Dickens A Tale of Two
Cities, Adventures of Sherlock
Holmes by Sir Conan Doyle,
Gullivers Travels by Jonathan
Swift, Pseudonymous Bosch -
the Secret Series, Agatha Chris-
ties Hercule Poirot Series.
z RK Narayans Malgudi Days, Wise
and Otherwise by Sudha Murthy
and Ruskin Bonds A Handful of
Nuts, Crazy times with Uncle Ken
and other short stories and nov-
els were the popular books cited
by Indian authors.
z The Amar Chitra Katha comic
series along with Herges Tintin
comics found a mention too.
z War Games by Micheal Foreman;
Horrible Science by Nick Arnold
Intriguingly, Gandhi &
Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that
Destroyed an Empire and Forged
Our Age by Arthur Herman is
definitely an unusual read for a
12-year-old, the Autobiography
of Mahatma Gandhi - The Story
of My Experiments with Truth is
less surprising. The student, who
mentions this to be his favourite,
said that Gandhis struggle against
the British made him cry and
salute the Mahatma.
45 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Motivational books like Who
moved my Cheese by Spencer John-
son and Stay Hungry Stay Foolish
by Rashmi Bansal are definitely
not common to this age group.
Some children, a countable
few, have an impressive insatiable
appetite for reading. It would be
befitting to point out that there
some who are budding writers.
Trisha Awari and Nidhish Birhade
of class VI, whose works have
seen publication, mention Harry
Potter series as their favourite.
Nidhish thinks, The series is an
iconic blend of myths, fiction and
adventure with a fantastic spark of
magic and humour.
Conclusion: What children are
looking for in a book that enchants
them are the concoction of deadly
secrets, adventure, scary, spooky,
suspense, horror and mystery
story plots. They are captivated
by the blend of the supernatural,
magic, mystique, and mythology.
These are books that push the
imagination to extraordinary
bizarre limits. And this is the age
when the impossible is certainly
possible; it is not rubbished to be
unrealistic and impractical.
And of course, who does not like
a good laugh? A tickle of the funny
bone is always welcome! Humour
is an element which will never lose
its appeal, no matter what the age.
And then there is hope and opti-
mism to cling to. Our children are
at the threshold of anticipation and
have faith in silver linings and are
believers in happy endings.
Some books offer a full package
of feelings when sad, these nov-
els, make them happy.
Students mentioned that the lan-
guage used in the books made them
an easy read besides being easy to
relate to and also what grabbed
their attention were the illustra-
tions. Some found Meg Cabots
characters very real and identifi-
able. They even draw inspiration
from characters in stories.
If the deciding factors which
influence their preferences are to
be delved into what comes forth is
that there are strong peer pressures
at play. It is quite fashionable to
be seen around with a good book
in hand to make a great impression.
The Harry Potter series, Diary
of the Wimpy Kid, The Princess
Diaries, Invention of Hugo Cabret,
Eragon, Charlie and the Chocolate
Factory, etc are now made into
movies. This is another very signif-
icant reason for the books becom-
ing trendy with children, whether
they like reading or not. This is
time related too, the books that are
a rage are a must read!
The regular Scholastic Publica-
tion exhibition-cum-sale held from
time to time in the school premises
is quite the decider which holds
the sway in selecting books. What
also make novels favourites are to-
days marketing gimmicks video
games, tele-serials, cartoons, mer-
chandise, etc. Much of what they
have on offer only, influences the
choices made as well. The flip side
of this is that most students are not
exposed to the entire wide range of
books that are actually meant for
them.
z Girija Maira
Department of English, DPS Pune
46 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
P
eople always love a good
story. And they love a good
storyteller even more. It is
no wonder, that the world
over, books are revered as the best
form of entertainment, education
and even rejuvenation.
One of the most common child-
hood memories are the bedtime
stories, narrated by doting grand-
parents or parents, of the Ramaya-
na or the Mahabharata, or even the
Thousand and One Nights. Many
of these children grow to love read-
ing with a dedicated passion. And
why not? Reading is one pleasure
that only enriches the mind. A
book is seemingly only a bundle
of pages bound together. But the
words contained therein have the
power to enlighten the mind and
broaden the view, for, sitting in the
comfort of your bedroom or while
travelling to work, you are trans-
ported to a different time, a differ-
ent world from yours.
A writer can, with a few words
of his pen, speak to your from
across centuries; reading mytholo-
gies and philosophies will do that.
He can put you in the shoes of any-
body; a slave, a king, a murderer
or a monk. He can take you from a
mountain top to the deepest caves
or fathoms under water. He can
take you millennia ahead through
science fiction or in an unknown
world by fantasy. It is no wonder
then that so many love to read, not
just for the joy of it, but for the ex-
periences they undergo.
Reading has innumerable bene-
fits. Apart from the simple fact that
it builds your vocabulary and lan-
guage skills, it also imparts a love
of language in its reader. Children
today are harangued by their elders
to read for a better word bank. It
is no wonder they grow to despise
books. Vocabulary is a positive out-
come, but not a goal of reading.
Another attribute of reading is
the way it emotionally and men-
tally shapes readers. Readers tend
to empathise with the characters
in the books. They are opened to
a world of different personalities
with which they can identify, or
understand. Good books develop
the emotional quotient of their
readers.
A book is great therapy as well.
A dull day can be enlivened by a
comic story or a thriller; a charac-
ter may become a source of inspira-
tion for someone.
Reading is something like a spa
for some, an activity that relieves
them of their tension and their
stress. A book-lover is never short
of something to do, there is always
a new book at hand. That is also
why many bibliophiles are never
lonely.
Many characters
Many times, more than the story or
the plot itself, it is the characters
that assume greater significance
for the reader. The characters that
take birth in the abyss of the writ-
ers head could become your best
friend; the villain, your worst en-
emy; and their world feels no less
(and sometimes more) than home.
A reader doesnt see them as fic-
tional characters but as somebody
47 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
who is living and breathing just
like you. He laughs with them, tri-
umphs with their victories, cries
for their losses and feels for their
pain.
When we read a novel, we find
ourselves entangled in the char-
acters the author has spun for us.
A world where magic exists, hob-
bits go on adventures; homeless
children grow to become global ty-
coons, and more. We delve into a
new, exuberant world forgetting all
our miseries and petty problems.
Probably the best thing about
novels is the high we get while en-
grossing ourselves completely in
another universe. It is the letting go
of ones own worries, the compul-
sion to race to the last page to find
how it all ends, the nail-biting sus-
pense that keeps one hooked while
the story unfolds and how the story
stays with the reader even after he
has finished reading the book.
New generation
The most common complaint of
the day is that children today do
not read. Either they have no time
to read amidst the piles of home-
work, or they prefer to spend their
free time in front of the television,
or worse, surfing the Internet.
The reasons are varied. A love for
books for some, is instant, for oth-
ers it has to be cultivated. A book
appears dull at first glance to chil-
dren, and if this is never corrected,
they may carry this notion for their
life, destroying any chance of the
books magic to ever reach them.
Reading is never one of their
preferred activities but more of a
painful chore limited to studying
boring textbooks. It is at the for-
mative period of early childhood
that the parents or teachers play a
very important role in adequately
introducing the child to books and
creating an interest and passion in
the young minds for the wonderful
world of books.
As for those who are introduced
to books in their childhood, they
become lifelong lovers.
People also have the misconcep-
tion that reading is taxing, as it
takes time to understand the nu-
ances of the plot. Instead, it is a
highly rejuvenating experience,
where the imagination running
wild awakens the cells, makes
one active and aware. It helps one
concentrate better. Reading a good
book should leave one peaceful,
satisfied, and relaxed.
Relevant reading
A question is often raised these
days regarding the relevance of
books in the digital world of today,
with instant access to huge reposi-
tories of knowledge and entertain-
ment like the Internet or the TV. Do
books still retain the relevance as
the mainstream source of knowl-
edge and education of children? To
arrive at the answer to this ques-
tion, it is important to understand
the joy of reading books.
A book not just tells a story, it
encourages the reader to think, to
dream. It increases his knowledge
and enhances creativity and power
of imagination.
Today, it's not illiteracy that stops
people from reading but intellectu-
al complacency. Why read when a
3 hour movie will give me the same
information? The logic is true, but
it doesn't mean we close our eyes
to the flip side of the coin. Stud-
ies reveal that people who read a
lot have more attention span and
grasping capacity than people who
are exposed only to visual media.
Reading enhances ones imagina-
tion and creativity. Also, it has been
observed that children exposed to
hearing fairy tales, religious books,
stories from parents who read it to
them are more creative and clear in
their thinking. In recent times, it is
JK Rowling, with her boy-wizard
Harry Potter who is credited with
bringing back the attention of the
younger generation to books. And
may the trend continue!
A book, be it a dusty volume
from a personal library, or a PDF
on an e-book reader, will always
trump any other form of infotain-
ment. And it will always have a
loyal band of followers!
z Atishka Jyoti, 10 D, Harsha
Sanyukta, 10 A, Shadwal Sufi, 8 F and
Priyanka Singh, Department of English (all
DPS Patna), Sarvika Tuli, 10 A, Saakshi
Lodha, 10 A (both DPS Pune), Mokshlak-
shmi Bhan, 9 B, DPS Ludhiana, Radhika M,
Faculty Member, Kalpana Hariharan, Faculty
Member (both DPS Coimbatore) and Rajesh
Jesudasan, Guest Writer
48 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
A
Reading Club is a group of readers
who regularly partake in the
discussion of books. The core
notion behind Reading Club is
to delve into the world of reading. A well
organized Reading Club endows a struggling
reader with a safe and reassuring milieu for
precise assessment-based intervention.
In the contemporary world, the aptitude
to read is highly valued and indispensable
for societal and economic progress. Getting
children into the reading habit is an en-
during procedure, for which they need as
much support and encouragement as we
can give them. This means that as teach-
ers or teacher-librarians we are at the
centre of the cycle, as reading facilita-
tors and creators of the school reading
environment, offering learners ac-
cess to exciting reading resources
and opportunities to read. Chil-
dren who are successful readers
tend to exhibit progressive social
skills.
School-based Reading Clubs
usually meet in the school library,
during the long break or after school, and under the
supervision of one or more teachers. Teachers get to-
gether beforehand and design a terms programme of
activities related to the books either they or the chil-
dren have chosen from the library stock.
The importance of this club is to serve as a logical
locale to implement and conduct discussion groups for
both children and families. In contrast to the school
setting, where a discussion program has a literary
curriculum focus, the light-hearted, social exchange
provides encouragement in a comfortable, welcoming
environment.
As readers, we experience the hoops and huddles
as well as the joys and insights that come while
reading. And as we share the struggle as well as the
victories with our students, they are moulded by
their own reading process using their own capability
to do so.
There are certain fundamentals which are needed
in order to initiate a Reading Club for children. Gen-
erally children read to cope with academic require-
ment of completing the assignments. The
Reading Club is an ideal time to show them
that reading can be fun.
There is need to entice new library
users. Few programs receive as much
publicity as a summer Reading Club.
This makes it a great time to reach out to
non-traditional library users. Encourage
families to use the library. This is the per-
fect time for families with children in dif-
ferent age groups to enjoy library activities
together. By making the summer Reading
Clubs an enjoyable activity; librar-
ians can lead children toward a
lifelong love of books and learn-
ing.
Planning ahead is a crucial part
of running a successful reading club.
Your Reading Club should have clear
aims and objectives, and perhaps even
a fun name to identify it, so that all
learners in the school will know it.
For example, over the course of a year you might aim to:
z raise the reading level of your learners
z extend their enjoyment of read-aloud stories
z extend their enjoyment of storytelling
z increase their enjoyment of reading and writing
z see an increase in borrowing of books from the
school or mobile or public library
z see an increased confidence in students when tell-
ing or dramatizing stories they have read or written
themselves
z offer improvement opportunities to learners who are
struggling to read or write
z motivate learners by the incentives the Club offers
z give shy or timid learners opportunities to shine in
a smaller group
z Irene James
Department of English, DPS Pune
The desire to read is not born in a child. It is planted
by parents and teachers." Jim Trelease
Reading Club
49 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Novels ... Down the ages
T
he earliest novels appeared in the West.
They first took firm root in England and
France in the beginning of the 17th cen-
tury. From this fact we can get a glimpse
of the pleasures of reading, a trend that has
spanned for almost four centuries now. The earli-
est writers include Henry Fielding, Walter Scott,
Samuel Richardson, Charles Dickens, Emile Zola
and the list goes on.
What would the world have been like, had not
it been showered with novels? Well, then we
would not have been able to even imagine what
Hogwarts really is. People would not have ever
enjoyed the various aspects of the world that the
novels have made us see. Right since time im-
memorial and ever since writing has developed
today.everything important and petty has
been linked to writing and consequently reading.
The vox pop is the greatest critic of written cre-
ations. If a writer is successful in constituting a
new virtual world where a reader can transport
himself, the novel will be a great hit! Few novels
strive to directly perturb the readers' conscience
and make them aware about the underprivileged
section of society. This was elucidated in Dick-
ens' Hard Times in which he criticised not just
the greed for profits but also the conception that
reduced humans to mere factors of production.
Women and novels: Women, whose sensibili-
ties have always been more profound, had start-
ed to read and write and so they penned down
their thoughts about the condition of women of
Britain of the mid 18th century. Readers, espe-
cially females were interested in Jane Austen,
Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte and various other
writers who portrayed women as strong icons,
yet delicate beings. Little Women, Good Wives
& many other immortal masterpieces from the
bygone era are still loved by readers.
Modern era novels: The new novels strive to
captivate young minds. The new generation
wants those novels which they are able to relate
to. Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling have under-
stood that fact really well. In this race, the Indian
writers too have achieved colossal heights. With
Amish Tripathi's The Immortals of Meluha & Se-
crets of the Nagas; Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Pop-
pies as national bestsellers, the readers have got
great stories and a new world of imagination to
walk into. The adolescent bookworms are quite
happy with a Chetan Bhagat or Durjoy Dutta in
their hands while being ensconced on a sofa.
So, it would be appropriate to summarise with
the famous words by Charles Dickens "Whether
I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or
whether that station will be held by anybody else,
these pages must show".
z Shambhavi Shekhar
10 A, DPS Patna
Reading the body language
I
t is a well known fact that knowledge is pow-
er and one of the ways in which a persons
knowledge develops is through reading.
Reading takes you to different parts of the
world from the ambience of your home. Read-
ing connects you to the future. Reading is de-
scribed as a complex cognitive process of de-
coding symbols in order to construct or derive
meaning. It is a means of language acquisition
of communication, and of sharing information
and ideas. Like all language, it is a complex in-
teraction between the text and the reader which
is shaped by the readers prior knowledge,
experiences, attitude and language community
which is culturally and socially situated. The
reading process requires continuous practice,
development, and refinement. Interestingly, only
20% of communications are verbal. This means
the other 80% are non-verbal communication
like text and body language.
The most successful people are those whose
policies, actions, behaviour and body language
are strategically aligned with their verbal mes-
sages. The visual technology revolution will
make body language even more crucial in fu-
ture. With visual technology, in the future, a per-
sons body language will be exposed to evalu-
ation, for example during a video conference.
Your future holds what your body language
is, what you stand for and what you believe
in. The importance of body language is often
mentioned but doesnt always get the attention
it deserves. After all before a word has even
been spoken, your body language will have
already given people their first impression of
you, by using words you can explain what type
of education you have received and what ex-
perience you have gained since then. You can
also show through words what youre talking,
however, body language will also give out a lot
more information about the person you are
insecure, self-assured, busy or quiet type. Ev-
erybody uses body language but it takes place
mostly at a sub-conscious level.
We read and write to communicate using text.
Initially, text was written by hand to commu-
nicate, but now we have word processing
computer program which eases in writing text.
The content conveys the intent of the writer.
However, ones handwriting shows exactly the
state of mind he or she is in. Neuroscience
gives us a clue. Our brain frequency is creating
a pattern which is simulated by handwriting.
Another interesting fact is that handwriting, body
language and brain frequency are interrelated and
can be influenced by each other. So by control-
ling our handwriting we are also able to control
our brain frequency which means we can control
our own state of mind and body language.
We live in a universe very much alive where ev-
erything has an energy field and works accord-
ing to the laws of attraction. Every action gen-
erates a kind of energy in our energetic field
influencing the brain frequency, body language
and handwriting due to its own vibration.
No matter what ways we choose to practise
increasing the levels of energy in our body, it
will create in time a better state of mind, better
state of being and finally a better future.
z Smita Valayil
Department of Biology, DPS Pune
The vox pop is the
greatest critic of written
creations. If a writer is
successful in
constituting a new
virtual world where a
reader can transport
himself, the novel will
be a great hit
50 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Books role
in history
W
hat is a book? Is it the name
of a tree, an animal or some
place? Surprised? Dont be. Be-
cause this is the question that 15
years from now, a child will ask
you? Though e-books are likely to
fill the gap they can never replace
the thrill and novelty of reading a
printed one.
One major appalling transformation I find in to-
days children is that there is an aversion of sorts
to all kind of print matter be it books, news-
papers, novels. The only exceptions are those
that have to be compulsorily read i.e. text books.
Holding a book in your hand and thinking of your-
self as a part of the story is now an archaic habit.
Everything that has an appeal has to be available
at the click of the mouse or a button.
However, for me, books have been a major
source of information, knowledge and learning.
Since the beginning of human civilization, books
have been continuously used in many forms
like barks of trees, manuscripts, etc., either to
convey an idea, spread knowledge or express
thoughts and emotions.
Books represent time, culture, tradition and de-
velopment. They give tongue to a societys un-
derstanding. Writers write what happens around
them. They express their views about the world
through books. Books also unite the different
sections of a society into one which share a
common way of thinking and understanding.
Novels are one of the earliest and most loved
forms of books the world has ever seen. Books
have played a significant and substantial role in
the making of todays global world of democracy.
Whenever a country was on its way to gaining
freedom, independence from tyranny and dicta-
torship, books have helped in achieving it.
As you wont find a war without swords or guns,
similarly you wont find a revolution without the
involvement and crucial roles played by books.
Great philosophers and poets have always used
the art of writing to convey their thoughts to
the general public. Jean Jacques Rousseaus
writing, his Romanticism and political philosophy
influenced the French Revolution as well as
the overall development of modern political,
sociological and educational thought of the
country and Indias Bhartendu Harishchandra
(the pioneer of modern Hindi Literature) writings
encouraged many members of his circle of
poets and writers to recreate novels and write on
patriotism during the 19th Century (the time of
Indian Uprising).
In India, Indian writers during the British rule used
the novel as a powerful medium to criticize what
they considered defects or drawbacks in their
society and to suggest remedies.
Novels helped in establishing a relationship with
the past. Through glorified accounts of pasts,
these novels helped in creating a sense of na-
tional pride among the readers.
But now the novels which played a major role
in shaping some of the worlds largest democra-
cies are being thought of as obsolete, old fash-
ioned and primitive. But clichd as it may sound,
there is no denying the fact that a writer's pen is
mightier than a fighter's sword.
z Armaan Aditya, 10 A, DPS Patna
I
magine trying to talk to a Malayalee in Assa-
mese. Or to a Punjabi in Kannada. Language
and speech would flow freely, without a hint
of comprehension. This, in short is called a
language barrier.
A language barrier occurs when two persons
of different tongues try to interact and may face
difficulties in communication. Especially in India,
where we have an array of different languages
with a few similarities, the problem is striking.
This is seen most commonly by teachers trying
to teach in English to a vernacular student body.
While differences in language are beneficial in
a way that they encourage variety and diversity,
they can often be an obstacle in communicat-
ing freely, thereby becoming a barrier to human
progress.
There have been a lot of studies on the types
of barriers in communication. The following are
only some of these impediments:
Physical barriers These could be doors that
are closed, high walls, and distance between
people. All physical barriers work against the
goal of effective communication. This is be-
cause they tend to isolate the persons trying
to communicate physically. For example, in an
office, an open office, that is, an area having a
layout which is wide yet with mild walling could
promote collaborative communication. In this
layout, cubicles are removed and replaced with
desks grouped around a central meeting space.
While each individual has their own dedicated
work space, there are no visible barriers to pre-
vent collaboration with their co-workers.
Perceptual barriers These barriers are those
perceived by the mind. If a person has any pre-
conceived notions, then the resultant conversa-
tion will be difficult, as half the effort shall be
used in trying to remove the preconceived no-
tions. Such conversations are bound to get ag-
gressive or at least dispute bound, which further
closes the opportunity of influencing the person.
Emotional barriers Emotional barriers are usu-
ally a personal shortcoming. They can at some
times overpower the speaker, especially if he is
not confident of what he is saying. Such bar-
riers arise when a person is trying to influence
another purely on the basis of an emotional
factum. Instead, a well thought out and rational
communication will have much more effect than
one which is purely emotional.
Cultural barriers These are significantly evident
in a multi-cultural and diverse society like India.
For a person having a specific, cultural style of
living, he would find it difficult to understand the
point of view of the other. In such cases, it is
important to find common ground from which
both the parties can then take the communica-
tion forward.
Language barriers Language barriers, that is,
linguistic barriers are not only difference in lan-
guages but also in jargon. For example, a scien-
tist may use technical terms to describe some-
thing, which a layman may not understand.
Here, it would be important to avoid jargon and
speak in plain language without including too
many technical words.
Attitudinal barriers A preconceived notion or a
prejudiced idea makes it difficult to take in new
or radical information that is opposed to ones
preset ideas. One should always have an objec-
tive attitude and an open mind in any forum.
z Geeta Khatter
Department of Hindi, DPS Pune
Language Barriers
51 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
A
s an RJ, the first thing I need to do
every morning is to take a quick
glance at all the juicy and posi-
tive bits that the newspaper offers!
One such headline caught my attention last
year Karan Johar buys Bollywood rights of
The Immortals of Meluha.
I soon found out on the Net that it was the
part of a trilogy written (on Lord Shiva) by a
first-time author, Amish Tripathi. Two days
later I had the book in my hands and it gave
me a whole new perspective of looking at
Lord Shiva not as God but as a man who
like us was indecisive at times, made mis-
takes, suffered, and yes, loved just like us!
Then came The Secret of the Nagas and I
devoured it as fast I had finished Meluha. It
was then that I realised that I had to talk to
Amish! His first interview on my station was
aired when Amish was working on The Oath
of Vayuputras! Now that this book is out, he
took out time for an exclusive interview for
TES Orbit. Heres up, close and personal with
Amish who has is an IIM Kolkata product,
once National Head Marketing and Product
Management but now a full time happy writ-
er who is more snowed under than during
his banking days!
Just a trilogy old and already an icon! How
does it feel?
Im no icon, man. Im only a Shiv bhakt.
Writing a mythological book in today's sce-
nario and then getting runaway success
what could be the reason for this and how
did the idea strike you?
If you have to do any analysis, there are
many reasons that can be apparently trudged out.
Maybe the fact that myths have been a part of our
culture for so long that they are universally popular.
Maybe as some have said, the story told in my books
is fast-paced. Or perhaps, as some others have said,
my books have been well marketed. But if you ask
my honest opinion, I think its the blessing of Lord
Shiva that my books have succeeded.
The book has a universal appeal, from college stu-
dents to people in 70s your book has readers of all
age groups!
Judging by the attendance at my book events, perhaps
you are right. But the conversations are different with
different age groups. The young approach my books
with fresh, new eyes. The old discuss our scriptures
and the interpretations Ive made. I enjoy both sets of
conversations since I learn a lot from them.
Third part after more than a year! It was a long long
wait for Meluha lovers. What took you so long?
The book has grown to mammoth proportions. Its
more than 1,60,000 words long. That is twice as long
as my earlier books. Therefore it took time to write.
Showers of Shivas blessings
Cut out activities that clog up your time (like watch-
ing TV) to pursue your dreams, says author Amish
Tripathi in an exclusive interview with TES Orbit
z Vera Singh
52 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
My apologies for the delay, but I hope you like the
book at the end of it all.
Who has been your favourite character in this tril-
ogy?
No prizes for guessing! Lord Shiva is my favourite
character.
Any character based on someone you know?
Some are. They are actually composites of people
who I know in real life. But most are completely
imaginary.
Indian rights of the book are with Karan Johar who
is planning to make the film with Vidya Balan and
Hrithik Roshan. Comment on the cast.
I dont think its right for me to comment on the cast.
Dharma (Karan Johars company) is working on the
script right now. Once that is done, they will start
finalising the cast. I do know who they are consider-
ing. But I think its only fair that Dharma announces
it at the right time.
What about Hollywood rights?
There is a separate discussion on. Its being negoti-
ated by my Hollywood-based agent, Creative Artists
Agency. But no deal has been finalised as yet.
I guess it is for the first time that a book has been
released with trailers! I must say amazing trailers!
Who is the brain behind it?
Ive been lucky to have some amazing marketing
minds as advisors (like my wife Preeti, my agent
Anuj and my friend Sangram Surve) and Ive been
smart enough to listen to them!
You took a great risk by switching your. What would
you tell the youth?
I must clarify that I wrote my first two books along
with my job. I resigned only when I discovered that
I can meet my responsibilities through my royalty
cheques. I dont come from a privileged wealthy
background. So I cannot afford to be irresponsible.
Perhaps the learning I have drawn is that if you cut
out activities that clog up your time (like watching
TV), you can find the time to meet your responsibili-
ties and pursue your dreams.
When did you realise that you have a writer in you?
I cant say that it was one moment. I guess I surprised
myself as I wrote more and more of the book. I had
not written any fiction before this. So in many ways,
Im surprised even today that Ive actually written
three whole books.
Do you believe that each book has a destiny of its
own?
Yes. As it is said in the Bhagvat Gita, our task is to do
our duty with detachment. The results are up to fate.
How were you as a child?
I was academics oriented; I loved reading; and I en-
joyed and participated in sports such as boxing and
gymnastics.
What books did you read when you were in college?
Ive always been a voracious reader. But the book
which I loved most in college was the River God by
Wilbur Smith. It satiated my love for history, told in
a racy, fast-paced manner.
Which movies have been your all time favourites?
Sholay.
Favourite Games?
Boxing and Gymnastics. Regrettably, Im too out of
shape now to attempt any of these two sports now.
One favourite comic character of yours?
Phantom. Old jungle saying: Phantom moves faster
than the eye can see!
Any particular teacher whom you still remember?
Mr Lobo. The physics teacher in Cathedral & John
Connon School. He made Physics my favourite sub-
ject for those two years.
Any subject that gave you the shudders?
By my good fortune, I didnt really hate any subject.
But I must say that I hated the way Shakespeare was
taught to us in school. My friends and I had our own
mini bonfire of the vanities at the end of the 10th
grade where we burnt our copies of Shakespeare. I
did rediscover Shakespeare many years later and I
grew to love his work.
Were you a backbencher or a front-bencher?
Backbencher.
Vera Singh is one of the most popular RJs in the country.
53 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
I
ts the failure to recognize
Dyslexia which results in
it being labelled mental
weakness. One of the cruelest
acts that we as parents, teachers or
colleagues might be inadvertently
indulging in, is failing to recognize
dyslexia, and labelling it as mental
weakness.
Dyslexics, comprising 5% of the
population, can be spotted from
pre-school age. Typically, these
kids have bright intelligent eyes,
seem to follow what you tell them,
react intelligently to situations, are
emotionally normal, but seem to
get into problems when asked to
read or write. They may sit with
the book open for long hours with-
out progressing down the page,
write poorly with lots of spelling
mistakes, confuse b with d
(mirror images) and hence get poor
marks in the way tests are normal-
ly conducted.
They are certainly not mentally
weak. In fact, studies show that
some of the brightest and most
successful have had the trait. Al-
bert Einstein the great scientist,
John Lennon of Beatles fame, Rich-
ard Branson the owner of Virgin
Airlines, Tom Cruise the Holly-
wood star, Thomas Edison who
gave us the electric bulb, Winston
Churchill the British PM are some
examples of immensely successful
people with dyslexia.
The problem in dyslexia is not
with intelligence but with the wir-
ing in the brain that deals with
the way we learn or reproduce the
symbols of language, such as al-
phabets or words, especially the
written ones. Language, especially
alphabets and words, have been
made by man as instruments for
communication, and are, there-
fore, not something truly natural.
Dyslexics have a problem learning
symbols of this man-made lan-
guage and hence struggle in assess-
ments that test the ability to learn
and reproduce them.
What complicates the lives of
dyslexic children is that parents
as well as school teachers are of-
ten not aware or trained to pick up
dyslexia. The trauma of a lovable
bright child starts when he under-
performs in his first written test,
gets poor grades and is told that he
is dull or inattentive. Parents are
then informed in PTMs that their
child is mentally weak. Imagine
how we would feel if we were told
that we are dull just because we
could not reproduce or write words
or sentences well, but we had won-
derfull skills in painting, music or
designing that our teachers never
tested us at!
That then is the tragedy. Dys-
lexics are often very creative
and artistic and can leave their
scholarcolleagues way behind if
only they were tested at what they
were gifted with art, designing,
music, creativity, etc. They would
grow up and make the list of ge-
niuses longer and brighter.
Aamir Khans Taare Zameen Pe
helped in making society aware of
the disorder. Now special training
modules are available that can help
dyslexic children learn language
well and rub shoulders with the
toppers of their class. Picking up
these kids with special traits at an
early age, perhaps in preschool, is
what we need to strive for. This is
imperative if the true potential of
our dyslexic geniuses has to be re-
alised and tapped.
Dr Gourdas Choudhuri
of Medanta, Gurgaon is a leading
gastroenterologist, medical educator,
columnist and philanthropist.
He has made seminal contributions in
creating and spreading awareness on health
issues in the country,
especially among students.
Are we being cruel to bright kids?
54 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
O
nce upon a time, a
husband and a wife lived
in the slums of Odense,
Denmark. The husband
was a poverty stricken shoemaker
and the wife was a washerwoman
both of them were illiterate
and could not read and write. On
April 2, 1952, they were blessed
with a baby boy whom they named
Hans; unfortunately, this little boy
was unable to attend any formal
schooling because of the penury
in which his parents lived. But
his father had an avid interest
in literature and accompanied
him to the theatre while his
mother narrated stories to him
continuously. The efforts of the
father coupled with the dedication
of the mother ignited in the mind
of the young boy an urge to write
poetry and create puppet shows.
Defed fate
But as fate had it, tragedy struck
the family and Hans lost his father
at the early age of 11 which meant
that Hans now needed to work and
support his livelihood. He worked
in a tobacco factory and a tailors
Cradle of fantasy
Fairy tales are more than
true; not because they tell
us that dragons exist, but
because they tell us that
dragons can be beaten.
GK Chesterton
H
ans Christian Andersen
was a master of this liter-
ary genre. The Emperors
New Clothes, a satirical short story
was immensely funny and enter-
taining and an instant success. It
was about an emperor who loved
to dress, and how some clever tai-
lors cheated him, who claimed
they would stitch clothes only the
most intelligent could see. The
emperor was quite gullible. He
demanded something new and
exquisite: The collars always
around the neck, the sleeves al-
ways come off the shoulders, the
waist always goes around the mid-
dle. When will they invent some-
thing original?
This story included hysterical
lines, and unbelievable aspirations
of the emperor like, I want the
pant to have five legs, so that when
I am walking I could go jumping
from leg to leg to leg to leg!
Anderson taught us many
things through his magical world;
the power of truth and the power
to conquer the terrors of mankind
through metaphor. He created
immortal prince and princesses;
mortal evil lords and a never-end-
ing world of adventure, magic and
uncertainty. Through these tales,
he has bonded us together in a
universe of perfection, where evil
has its end and goodness, its rev-
erence; where virtue is divine and
cheating is hellish; where dreams
are real and imagination flies free.
But dreams come true only in
fairy tales and that is the heroin
that entraps all minds into the cra-
dle of fantasy; into the lullabies of
the fairy tales and into the arms of
magic, mystery and amazement.
z Bishnupriya Mukherjee
10 I, DPS Patna
Long live the king of fairy tales
Hans Christian Andersen
55 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
shop to make two ends meet. The
situation became all the more ago-
nizing because this tall, thin and
lean boy with a long thin nose and
close set eyes was often teased by
everyone, prompting him to take a
decision to cross over to Copenha-
gen at the age of 14 to try his luck
at theatre and singing. Initially he
was a little lucky but misfortune
struck once again when his voice
broke down, bringing his sing-
ing career to a halt. Nevertheless,
Hans obsession with theatre har-
nessed his focus to writing and he
was so enamoured by this art that
he said, It went through me, body
and soul, and tears filled my eyes, I
knew that, from this very moment,
my mind was awake to writing.
And thus a star was born Hans
Christian Andersen the creator of
168 fairy tales, some being: The
Emperors New Clothes, The Ugly
Duckling, The Little Mermaid, The
Ice Maiden and many, many and
many more.
A contemporary of Victor Hugo,
Charles Dickens, and Alexandre
Dumas, Hans has left an indelible
mark in the world of literature
along with stalwarts like Shake-
speare, Dante, Homer and Cer-
vantes for creating the rich heri-
tage, a medium of recreation for
generations to come, just like a
drink from heavens brink pour-
ing an immortal source of joy.
The genre of fairy tales has been
brought to life by this genius with
the ingredients best suited for this
mouth watering cuisine with a fla-
vour of the downtrodden and the
deprived most probably triggered
by his own experiences as a child.
The autobiographical element is
evident in almost all his works
whereby he uses a distinct set-
ting, theme, character, plot and the
good, bad as well as ugly.
With a pinch of sorrow, death,
evil and mans mistakes he has
spun authentic anecdotes wherein
the protagonist triumphs over all
odds due to the sheer optimism
overshadowing pessimism. The
tales of wonder and fancy imbued
with the best of protagonists pro-
vide a nostalgic getaway from the
mundane and have appealed to
both young and old. The themes
of class difference, priorities in life
and good and ordinary are in abun-
dance in his works and one can
remember the innocence of child-
hood and together-
ness.
Life skills
The life skills
imbibed through the
reading of his works
are unimaginable
and vast for the
21st Century, which
is characterised
by unrest amongst
the youth. Deaths,
betrayal, heart
wrenching portrayal
of anguish, infatuation
subdued are themes
prevalent in his works.
He shaped tales that
are interpreted and
cherished and told
anew by every novel
age band and are still
stirring authors, artists,
and dramatists even
today. The Hans Christian
Andersen Medal is the
most prestigious award i n
childrens book, and we can see his
influence even in the fiction for
adults.
The Ugly Duckling teaches
individuals how to handle
rejection. The Ugly Duckling
projects those individuals who are
rejected from their society because
they are different in some way or
the other. Similarly, Thumbelina
is considered ugly by the other
beetles because she does not have
six legs. Both these characters
discover a new identity ultimately
when the former is accepted by
a family of swans and the latter
after a series of misadventures gets
married to Prince Cornelius.
The desire for freedom is
represented in both Nightingale as
well as Thumbelina. The nightingale
wants to sing in freedom and does not
want to be restricted. Neither does
Thumbelina want to be domestic
help to the mole or the toad
and is elated to
escape and find her husband. So
does the Little Mermaid die in order
to attain freedom. The king in The
Emperors New Clothes is a comment
on the hypocrisy of mankind to do
the ultimate to avoid appearing to be
stupid.
The crunchy, delicious and
mouth-watering tales set in fairy
land leave a lingering taste in ones
persona uplifting the childlike
mind and intelligence with a whiff
of fresh air. Let us celebrate this
great legacy and live happily ever
after!
z Sujata Bhadani,
Department of English, DPS Patna
56 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Malgudi Days
Malgudi Days is my
favourite book. I first
saw it as a serial on
Doordarshan and
I took such an im-
mense liking for the
stories that I looked
up the books at the
Resource Centre of
my school. Malgudi
is a fictional place
in south India and it forms the backdrop of RK
Narayans stories. The high point of these sto-
ries lies in their simplicity and the commonplace
incidents which everyone can easily relate to.
There isn't any main protagonist in the stories but
every incident has a typical Indian flavour which
appeals to readers of all ages.
z Sumanyu Suman, 9 G, DPS Patna
My Experiments
with Truth
I always thought auto-
biographies involved
penning down only
the positive aspects
of a persons life or
sufferings faced by
someone. My ex-
periments with truth
changed this outlook
completely. I was not
astounded by his principles but the real hero, MK
Gandhi. I admired his courage to speak the truth
in all situations. Reading the book has helped me
to face hardships and tackle situations in an in-
novative manner. The facts that overwhelmed me
were tolerance and the acceptance of faults and
errors in written. This has also helped me to take
few small steps towards overcoming my weak
points and to become self-reliant. Lines that are
etched in my heart: What effect this reading of
Gita had on my friends only they can say, but to
me the Gita became an infallible guide of con-
duct.
z Anitha V, Department of
Mathematics, DPS Coimbatore
The Inheritance Cycle
My vote goes to The Inheritance Cycle by Chir-
stopher Paolini. The first book of this series is
Eragon, and then comes Eldest followed by
Brissingr and The Final Inheritance. The great-
est thing about the
book is that not once
does it lose its tempo
and pace. Paolini has
done a tremendous
job of creating a plot
which is gripping. He
holds his cards close
to his chest and this
keeps the reader on
tenterhooks. You
would strongly have to fight off the urge to find
out what happens next by flipping the pages. The
series is a read of a lifetime.
z Apoorva Raj Singh, 11 C, DPS Patna
Famous Five
Who can forget those
heady days during the
month of May? Long
summer holidays
lazing around on the
beaches of Chen-
nai, eating Sundal
(boiled spicy channa)
and gorging on Ice
creams. Not to miss
the Famous Five se-
ries by Enid Blyton. Was any summer complete
without visiting the lending libraries of our neigh-
bourhood?
I can still remember the Famous Five series and
in particular Five Go Off In A Caravan. The idea
of 5 children going off on their own in, wait a
minute, a caravan of all things was something
unimaginable. The first time I read this book, I
couldnt put it down till I reached the last page.
I too wanted to travel in a caravan pulled by a
horse and meet people like Nobby and make
friends with a chimp! Cooking breakfasts over
the open fire and eating whatever and whenever
I felt like it, was a dream I wanted to live. It goes
without saying that my mother was not exactly
overjoyed when I wanted her to hire a caravan for
our next holiday.
z Chitra Venkateswaran,
Coordinator, DPS Coimbatore
Chitralakshana
I am glad to share few words about the book
titled Chitralakshana - Story of Indian Paintings
by Mulk Raj Anand. As we all know, paintings
represent our expressions, our lives, our history
and they have no boundaries or no rules. Indian
paintings have always inspired me, because India
has diverse art forms.
These art forms
mainly represent the
day to day life of the
people in that region.
This book talks about
the various kinds of
Indian paintings, from
primitive rock paint-
ing to the Tanjore,
Kalighat and other
painting forms. The author has discussed about
the works of various ages, the reason for those
paintings and how the cultural influence from
various regions and dynasties were depicted in
this art form. This book also discusses about the
minute details like, how the eyes in pictures were
changed according to the culture. This book is
really an eye-opener.
z Elakya, Department of
ICT, DPS Coimbatore
Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory
The book Charlie and
the Chocolate Fac-
tory is a marvellous
novel written by Roald
Dahl. It is actually a
mouth-watering expe-
rience! Anyone would
enjoy reading it for
two reasons; firstly,
it involves chocolate
(Yummm!!!) and
second, it is written by Dahl. I liked the book
because the imagination of the factory was stu-
pendous. The lift which could move in any direc-
tion was very creative. The songs of the Oompa
Loompas added to the marvel of the book. This
book is a must read.
z Harshul Surana, 6 C, DPS Pune
The Count of
Monte Cristo
One of the finest
classics of all time,
Alexandre Dumas'
The Count Of Monte
Cristo is a passionate
saga of a common
man's fall, adventure,
revenge and realisa-
tion. Portrayed in co-
B o o k R e v i e w
My Favourite Book
57 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
lours of vengeance, the tale of Edmund Dants is
still regarded as a masterpiece in itself. The most
praiseworthy feature of this story is the writer's
ability to wound together conflicting emotions
and present them as one. The Count of Monte
Cristo appeals to people of two different eras, of
various tastes and varied cultures. The portrayal
of love, hatred, betrayal, ambitions, desires, ad-
venture and vengeance thrill the readers as they
get to witness a plethora of emotions. The book
does not stop here, it throws light on the trans-
formation of a man from an innocent intelligent
sailor to the tactful wealthy Count, who has torn
apart the challenges and evils of the society, and
whose heart feeds on revenge. The Count of
Monte Cristo is not just a gripping novel with a
beautiful plot; it is the epic saga of every extraor-
dinary man present in an ordinary man who has
the ability to turn him into a legend.
z Prachi Satyam, 10 G, DPS Patna
Percy Jackson
After giving a lot of
thought I zeroed in on
Percy Jackson series
by Rick Riordan but
it sure was a tough
decision as the Harry
Potter series was a
tough contender. Per-
cy Jackson had the
upper hand as Percy
on his journey has to
take quick and tough decisions and has to put
his life on the lines to be out of harm's way. Percy
stays calm and is quick to make precise deci-
sions and is like a little boy playing with wild fire.
Percy is a person who never says never or backs
down without a fight. People don't like him as he
is invincible. While reading his books it is easy to
pick up a lot about Roman and Greek mythology
as there are references in plenty. The final thought
that comes to my mind is - "A book may end but
the wait for its sequel never will...."
z Prajwal Singh, 6 C, DPS Patna
Kane and Abel
As long as I can re-
member, storybooks
have been on my bed-
side table and most
faithful amongst my
friends. My favourite
book is Jeffery Ar-
cher's Kane and Abel.
I chose this book be-
cause it taught me to
never lose faith even
when dark times prevail. Dreams turn into real-
ity the moment you realise that hard work is the
key to success. The dramatic rise of one of the
protagonists, Abel Rosnovski from being a pen-
niless Polish immigrant to a billionaire hotelier
and Willam Lowell Kane's restraint, values and
principles which he never compromised till the
very end are lessons to be learnt. They remain a
constant source of inspiration and motivation to
aspire and to achieve. The essence of the book
which seems to be the most important lesson for
life is that aspirations and achievement are yours
without compromise being a prerequisite. Long
live the spirits of Kane and Abel.....
z Prashasta Singh, 11 D, DPS Patna
The Accidental
Billionaires
Facebook is a revo-
lution... a revolution
to change the social
lives of the young and
the old alike, a revolu-
tion started by Mark
Zuckerberg. Just as
the books title sug-
gests, Facebook was
nothing but an acci-
dentally-programmed
brilliant college experiment gone viral. Mark and
his friend Eduardo Saverin, who is Facebooks
co-founder were college nerds but later went
on to be counted among the most well-known
people ever known in history. The Accidental Bil-
lionaires describes it all. It tells us about Face-
mash, the first viral college dorm experimental
project built by Zuckerberg, which was the little
sibling of Facebook. It tells about how Facebook
spread across the world like wildfire and how all
of a sudden everyone wanted to know Eduardo
and Mark. It reveals how amidst the popularity,
cash, glamour and power, a simple argument
between two friends can be converted into an out
and out war.
To all those out there who wish to do something
great and want to make a name in the world,
Mark Zuckerberg is a great inspiration. This book,
although fiction in parts, roughly gives us the sto-
ry of the formation of Facebook, one of the most
celebrated Internet companies in the world. The
author Ben Mezrich takes us on a bumpy journey
through the vicissitudes of life especially when
one has a billion dollar idea. He talks about mon-
ey, friendship, fame, betrayal and the advantages
and disadvantages of being worth over a billion
dollars. The irony in this book is that Facebook
succeeded in bringing people from all parts of
the world closer than before but could not stop
best friends Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zucker-
berg from separating.
z Sarvika Tuli, 10 A, DPS Pune
Sillapathikaram
A popular axiom aptly
states, The joy that
we receive ought to
be shared unto all.
Thus the saying ver-
ily emphasized as
one of the best amidst
the three greatest
epics in Tamil litera-
ture which is highly
regarded as sweeter
than the honeycomb. The longest epic that Tamil
language has ever produced is none other than
Sillapathikaram. It is one of my favourite stories
which I would cherish forever. The story revolves
around the sense of humaneness. To err is hu-
man, to forgive divine is the crux of the story and
it also conveys that one should forgive others
generously. The protagonists Kovalan-Kannagi
set an example for others.
z Hemalakshmi, Department
of Tamil, DPS Coimbatore
A Thousand
Splendid Suns
A Thousand Splen-
did Suns, written by
Khaled Hosseini, is
my favourite book
for reasons more
than one. This book
introduced me to a
completely different
sphere of life, one full
of struggles and ob-
stacles. When I read
this book I was shaken out of my illusion of the
comfortable lives we live and was shocked to
know about the poor status of women around the
world and intrigued to know why society refuses
to treat them as equals. This book is a heart rend-
ing journey of innocent Mariam, a victim of child
marriage. She is only fifteen when she is mar-
ried to Rasheed, who abuses and torments her.
The author beautifully captures Mariam's emo-
tional turmoil and this forms the very essence of
the book. This book taught me how to face the
toughest of circumstances with a strong will and
faith in oneself.
z Soumya Tantia, 10 G, DPS Patna
B o o k R e v i e w
58 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
NEWS CAPSULE
New Chinese President
Xi Jinping formally
took over as Chinas
head of state on
March 1 after ruling
Communist Party
officially named
him as the country's
next president. He
will lead the world's
most populous na-
tion for the next 10
years.
Terrorist hanged
Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was
hanged on account of the 2008
Mumbai attacks.
Typhoon Bopha
slams Philippines
A monster storm made landfall in
the southern Philippines recently
with powerful winds and torrential
rains that inundated the island na-
tion.
US fscal cliffs edge
US faced a budgetary crisis in end-De-
cember, arising from the end of old tax
breaks, new taxes and spending cuts
to control debt . What led to this state
of affairs? The US Budget Control Act
(BCA) of 2011 imposed caps on the gov-
ernments discretionary spending aimed
to slash spends by more than $1trillion
over the next 10 years. It also set in a
law the need for political agreement to
reduce the governments budget deficit
by another $1.2 trillion over that period.
Cash allowance for the poor
The Indian govern-
ment began the New
Year ushering in the
ambitious direct
cash transfer of ben-
efits covering seven
welfare schemes
in 20 districts in
16 states. In lieu of
subsidized food, fer-
tilizer & fuel, BPL
families would get
Rs 30, 000 40,000 a year in their bank accounts.
New pope elected
The Roman Catho-
lic Church has cho-
sen Jorge Bergoglio as
the new pope and he
comes from Argentina.
He is Latin America's
first pope and the first
pontiff to come from
the developing world.
Venezuelan President dead
In power for 14 years, Hugo
Chvez used oil money and vitriol
to spread his "Bolivarian revolu-
tion" to neighboring states, playing
a role in bolstering leftward turns
in Ecuador and Bolivia and back-
ing revolutionaries in Colombia.
He hectored the United States of-
ten, belittling its leaders and cozy-
ing up to its adversaries.
59 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
NEWS CAPSULE
Battle for Bangladesh
It takes a lot these days to draw residents of
Dhaka, Bangladesh, out into the hot and hu-
mid streets. And that makes the recent demon-
strations in the city's Shahbag neighbourhood
all the more remarkable. Thousands have ral-
lied in this nondescript area around a single is-
sue: bringing to justice the collaborators who,
in early 1971, helped the Pakistani military put
down the Bengali nationalist movement in the
country's eastern half. That unrest had eventu-
ally resulted in the late 1971 civil war that led
to Bangladesh's establishment as an indepen-
dent state.
EU ban
EU has banned both import and sale of cosmetics
tested on animals, and is committed to pushing other
powers such as China to alternative practices.
'Higgs boson'
The CERN physics research centre is confident that
physicists have discovered the long-sought subatomic
particle called 'Higgs boson'.
Richest footballer
David Beckham is the world's rich-
est footballer with 175 mn pound
fortune.
The net worth of a player compris-
es salary, endorsements and other
assets. The 50 richest footballers in
the world together earned 1.728 bil-
lion pounds - which is higher than
the GDP of certain nations.
Oscar winners
Ben Affleck's Iranian
hostage drama Argo won
the Best Picture Oscar
while Ang Lee pulled off
a big surprise by taking
home the Best Director
trophy for Life of Pi, the
story of a shipwrecked
Indian boy, at the 85th
Academy Awards.
Spying online
Syria, China, Iran, Bahrain and
Vietnam are flagrantly spying
online, media watchdog RSF
said today, urging controls on
the export of Internet surveil-
lance tools to regimes clamping
down on dissent.
60 AP R I L - J U NE 2 0 1 3
Across
1. Author of The Three Musketeers (5)
4. Country where haiku, a form of poetry, is written (5)
6. Merger of Penguin publishing house (6)
9. Phoenix of Dumbledore (6)
12. Surname of tiger in Life Of Pi (6)
13. A book of maps (5)
14. Landlady of 221B Baker Street (6)
15. Middle name of creator of Peter Pan (7)
17. Protagonist of The Alchemist (8)
18. First literary work of Asia to be awarded Nobel Literature Prize (10)
20. Author of James Bond (3)
21. Place where David Copperfield's only relative lives (5)
23. Most printed book of the world (5)
24. Founder of Slytherin house (7)
25. Captain Hook is afraid of a ___ (9)
26. Surname of author of Little Women (6)
29. First Name of creator of Famous Five series (4)
31. Literary award given by Man Group, UK
32. Author of Godfather (4)
34. A novel that continues the story of an earlier one (6)
35. Author of Shiva Trilogy (5)
36. Middle name of Harry Potter (5)
37. Oldest of The Three Musketeers (5)
38. Master harpoonist in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (3)
Down
2. Oliver's paternal half-brother (5)
3. A friend of Mowgli (5)
5. City of imprisonment of Dr. Alexander Manette (A Tale of Two Cities) (5)
7. Short work of fiction (7)
8. Brother of Sherlock Holmes (7)
10. Occupation of Miss Havisham (Great Expectations) (8)
11. Genre of Harry Potter series (7)
14. Illustrator of Tintin comic series (5)
15. Rikki-tikki-tavi was a ___ (8)
16. Unit of measuring reading speed (3)
18. A style of art or literature (5)
19. Fictional land in Peter Pan (9)
22. Author of Inheritance Cycle series (7)
23. A system of raised dots to help the blind to read (7)
27. Common protagonist of most novels of Dan Brown (6)
28. Anagram of reading; to prove by proof (7)
30. Author of "Journey To Centre of The Earth" (5)
31. Nobel Literatue Laureate 2012 (5)
33. Tom Sawyer's best friend (4)
C L U E S
SOLVE AND WIN
EXCITING PRIZES
The first correct entry from each school will
win special Takshila Merchandise.
Contest only for students of
DPS Patna, Pune, Ludhiana & Coimbatore.
Send your answers only by mail to
orbit@takshila.net.
Solution to previous crossword:
ACROSS
1. Chitrakatha
4. Flash Gordon
10. Red
11. Professor X
14. Dhruv
15. Chandamama
17. Drone
20. Rio
21. Alvin
23. Aabid
24. Kent
27. Andrews
30. Phantom
31. Earl
35. Asterix
36. Manga
37. Captain
38. Ben
40. Comic Con
41. Thor
42. Snip
45. Alan
47. Nightcrawler
49. Pran
52. Louie
53. Storm
54. AAA
55. Jupiter
56. Bhumi
57. Everest
DOWN
1. Caricature
2. Indrajal
3. Rip
5. Lex
6. Spiderman
7. Dog
8. Nagraj
9. Gordon
12. Star
13. Rudra
16. Devashard
18. Ogre
19. Pai
22. Veronica
25. Onix
26. Hal
27. Alien
28. R K Laxman
29. Sita
32. Green Lantern
33. Stan
34. Japan
35. Arbit
39. Borg
41. Tin
42. Scrooge
43. Pale
44. Karna
46. Spirit
48. Irish
50. Elf
51. Crug
Previous issue of crossword was created by Aayush Mallik,
12 A, DPS Patna. Crossword Winners (A Handful of Heroes):
Aditya Sanket, 11 B, DPS Patna; Harsh Varma, 9 A, DPS Pune;
Sutej Singh Bains, 10 B, DPS Ludhiana & Mithesh R, 5 A, DPS
Coimbatore
Presents an exciting
opportunity to budding
authors for getting published
The project is for students from
Class VI to XII of DPS Patna, Pune,
Ludhiana & Coimbatore. Twenty
selected stories will be published
by Takshila.
No good story to read? Then write one.
Be an author. Let the world read your story.
Think, dream, plan, write. Be known.
Learn everything about how to be an author- from
well known authors.
join our prestigious Book Writing Project. We will
mentor you to write your story, and be published.
Be ready- in April 2013.