Hello everyone, we have a full, exciting and happening day, today. First, we swing by 5 Minutes for Books, where they’re “reading into everything.” And this time, it’s Amadi’s Snowman. Visit their website for a review written by Lauren, a former elementary school teacher and reading specialist.

And now, we go to Hyderabad, in the south of India. This used to be the Nizams’ princely state before they joined the Union, a year after India’s partition, in 1947. The Nizams’ wealth was one of the greatest in the world and their jewels are legendary. The enormous diamond that graces the crown of the Queen Mother of England is believed to have been found in the mines of Golconda, a long time ago. The city is also famous for its Biryani, a delicious – and hot! – dish made with goat, rice, onions, curd, lemon, spices and saffron.
This picture shows the Charminar, one of the great landmarks of Hyderabad. Built in 1591, it has four soaring minarets. All around, the streets bustle with activity. One side street is called Bangle Lane, and it is lined with little shops that sell, you guessed it, lots and lots and lots of tinkling, shiny bangles.
From there, let’s return to the Vidyaranya High School, in Hyderabad. On my first visit there, I gave the fourth graders blank cards and asked them to think about what it means to them to be able to read. They used one side of the card to help them focus on the question, and once they’d come up with an answer, I went around the class, and together, we chose one word or a few that best expressed their feeling about reading. They wrote them again in big letters on the other side. 

Below are pictures of the experiment.
                                    Showing their cards



“To me reading is my favorite hobby. Reading, I think is enjoying. Books hold a lot of knowledge and fun. Once I start reading a book I can’t stop until I finish it because I am always curious to know what happens in the end. In short, I love reading.”

And below are scans of some of the longer ones… As they’re not as clear as I would have liked to, I have copied each little essay below. 

Mandisha says : “Reading is important to me because it helps me and when I’m reading a book, I get to know new thing and good Masala and that is why I want to become a librarian. I get to know about great people and it even helps me in my studies.”

Masala, by the way, means “spice blend” in Hindi. I think that Mandisha means that she gets to know new things, and also a blend of knowledge.

Ramsha says : “If I can read a sentence, I can also understand it. I can also learn something new. Or if my mother is going out, she leaves a chit behind and I have to read it and do whats written, for example : wash the cabbage or peal the potatoes or even give the dog food. I also help my parents in driving my mom read the road signs. My grandmom is an authorist and she keeps getting letters from people and she certainly has to read them.” 

Brahma says: “I feel that it’s important to read because in each page I learn a new thing and I feel enthusiastic.”

This note was not signed. It says: “1. Reading is interesting and there are new stories. 2. We can learn new things. 3. I has new kinds of pictures. 4. We can learn new spelling. 5. We can tell it out to somebody if he’s bored.”

When I read this note, I first praised the author for being honest, and said that I didn’t blame her for not wanting to read boring books. I then asked her if she thought that Amadi’s Snowman was boring. 
She exclaimed : “Oh no! Amadi is not boring, he’s fun. I really like him because he’s like me, he doesn’t want to read.” 
“Mm, in that case, it seems to me that what you hate is not reading books, but boring books. Maybe all you need to do is to look for books that you don’t find boring. What do you think?” 
She appeared to find the concept interesting, and I’m happy to report that on my second visit, when I asked the children whether Amadi’s story had somehow changed the way they view reading, or if it made them want to read more, that little girl raised her finger and nodded enthusiastically, along with the others.

As mentioned in a previous post, the children in Nigeria sent their own set of questions to the children in India. I’ll be posting them, along with the answers, tomorrow.
Thank you to all the fourth graders at Vidyaranya High School. Thank you to their teachers, Mrs Mini Alex, and Mrs. H. Kanchana, for their warm welcome. And last, but far from least, thank you so much to the principal, Mrs. Shanta Rameshwar Rao, for opening up her school doors to me with such enthusiasm and her contagious passion for books, stories and life. You have all made my very first school visits an experience I will always remember fondly.

“Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.” 

James Russell LOWELL

Tomorrow we continue to publish excerpts from the conversation between the children of Nsukka and the children of Hyderabad, and we’ll also have a review and a giveaway at In the Pages; and of course our daily “Quote of the Day” feature. See you then…

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