Chitti's Travelling Book Box
As someone who loves and collects books about books, stories, reading and libraries, I was excited to read about Kavita Punniyamurthi ‘s new book ‘Chitti’s Travelling Book Box’.
Soon after I saw it pop up on social media, I found it sitting prettily amongst a host of ‘grown up’ bestsellers at my local book cum stationary store and took it as a sign from the book-gods, to pick it up.
How glad I was that I did!!!
When Chitti returned from her summer holidays in Chennai, she was excited to share her newly discovered love for reading and a box full of books with her friends.
Unfortunately for Chitti, her friends found reading booooring!!
Hoping to share her excitement about books with her friends, to share her delight over book-magic and to talk about all that she reads in books, Chitti is disappointed.
But then she remembers how Fathima Akka…who had set up a neighbourhood library in Chennai, had got her interested in reading, by suggesting a book about a topic she loved.
She also draws from Akka’s read aloud sessions in which she heard so many different kinds of stories…beyond the self-righteous moral stories favoured by her school principal.
So she chooses a book of monster stories to read to her gang, using two hallmarks of raising readers…
1. Read aloud time
2. Suggesting books on children's areas of interest
Soon Chitti had her friends held within the pages of books as they sat on the trailer of her father's discarded tractor, reading. On seeing the gang enjoying themselves, children from around the village began to join them around the little tractor library. But with so many ‘borrowers’, the children needed new books.
Book joy is infectious and the need to spread that joy…doubly so.
Read the book to find out how the whispers of old and the clicks of new, help the children grow their collection and spread book-joy beyond their little village.
Chitti and her gang of friends have my library educator's heart.
They so reminded me of my students V and A who had pooled together their books and had started a library for the children in their apartment complex, while I identify many of the tricks that Chitti has up her sleeve to help her draw her friends to books.
Nivedita Subramanium ‘s illustrations are absolutely delightful. Take time to read the titles of the stories and notice them around random ‘holes’.
As an educator who is passionate about diversity awareness, I appreciate Kavitha’s inclusion of diverse names for the children. This is one of the simplest ways in which diversity can be underlined, casually, making them familiar to children who may not have heard names like these before. Details in the illustrations…the dress or head gear, the elements in the background, would add to this. Given that this book is meant to be read across the country, a glossary of the Tamil words at the end, would not just be useful to those unfamiliar with the terms, but also broaden knowledge of a culture different from their own.
This is a perfect inspiration before the summer holidays.
How many little libraries is this going to inspire?
Even more than this being a book about a library, reading or books, this is a book about children's agency, teamwork and community.